Table of Contents

1.3 Road Safety

Adopting a Safe System approach to road safety recognises that humans, as road users, are fallible and will continue to make mistakes, and that the community should not penalise people with death or serious injury when they do make mistakes. In a Safe System, therefore, roads (and vehicles) should be designed to reduce the incidence and severity of crashes when they inevitably occur.

The Safe System approach requires, in part (Australian Transport Council 2011):

  • Roads and roadsides designed and maintained to reduce the risk of crashes occurring and to lessen the severity of injury if a crash does occur. Safe roads prevent unintended use through design and encourage safe behaviour by users.
  • Forgiving road environments that prevent serious injury or death when crashes occur.
  • Align speed limits with the risk and function of the road and roadside environment (Australian Transport Council 2011).

In New Zealand, practical steps have been taken to give effect to similar guiding principles through a Safety Management Systems approach.

Road designers should be aware of, and through the design process, actively support the philosophy and road safety objectives covered in the Guide to Road Safety. Further information on the Safe System principles can be found in the Guide to Road Design Part 2: Design Considerations (Austroads 2015b).