The safe system approach

The Government’s 2010-2020 road safety strategy, titled Safer Journeys, moved away from the traditional view that drivers were solely to blame for crashes and is instead based on a safe system approach that is supported by the AA.

Safer drivers, in safer vehicles, travelling on safer roads, at safer speeds

The safe system concept acknowledges that people are not perfect and even good drivers will sometimes make mistakes on the roads.

Reducing the amount of people killed and hurt on our roads requires us to have safer drivers, in safer vehicles, travelling on safer roads, at safer speeds.

However, those mistakes should not cost people their lives or leave them seriously hurt.

So while a driver being distracted or fatigued could lead to them drifting out of their lane, there are many other factors that influence whether that lapse leads to a crash and the consequences if one does happen.

If they are in a vehicle with electronic stability control or on a road with a rumble strip and a decent shoulder the driver may be able to regain control before any harm is done.

If the road has a median barrier or a run-off area with no hazards like power poles or ditches then a harmful collission may be avoided.

And if there is an impact, people in a vehicle with a high safety rating may be able to walk away without being seriously hurt.

The outcome of a crash will ultimately be affected by the combination of many factors which is why the safe system is focused on creating:

Safer Drivers

That are skilled, alert and comply with the road rules.

Safer Vehicles

With technology and designed to prevent crashes and protect road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, in the event of a crash

Safer Roads

That are forgiving of mistakes, predictable and encourage safe speeds

Safer Speeds

That suit the function and use of the road, are easily understood and followed.

Only by making improvements across all of these areas will we make a real difference in reducing the amount of people killed and injured on our roads.

Under the safe system, all road users, government, roading authorities and designers and the vehicle industry share responsibility for road safety.

If you as a driver are alert, comply with the road rules and travel at safe speeds you should be able to rely on the roads you are on and vehicle you are in to protect you from serious harm.

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