Road safety management

Road safety management

The management and promotion of road safety is traditionally a public sector responsibility. In most cases, the ministries or agencies involved include transport, police, justice, finance, health and education authorities.  Road safety management at the national level focuses on legislation, vehicle standards, national road programmes and budgets. In addition, road safety activities at the regional (provincial) and local (municipal) level are crucial. Enforcement, education, emergency services, road signing and improvement are often executed locally and need local coordination and motivation. The multidisciplinary character of road safety must be recognized at all levels.

No matter how good intentions weak, road safety management hampers achieving good road safety results. The World Report on Traffic Injury Prevention – acknowledges 6 areas where focus is crucial in order to improve a country’s road safety management and reduce the number of traffic casualties:

  1. Indentify a lead agency in government to guide the national road traffic safety effort
  2. Assess the problem, policies and institutional settings relating to road traffic injury and the capacity for road traffic injury prevention in each county
  3. Prepare a national road safety strategy
  4. Allocate financial and human resources to address the problem
  5. Implement specific actions to prevent road traffic crashes, minimize injuries and their consequences and evaluate the impact of these actions
  6. Support the development of national capacity and international corporation

All the recommendations are based on a philosophy of using the safe systems approach developed based on the successful achievements in Sweden and The Netherlands and how it was managed.

In support of the World Report, several documents have been published recently. The Country guidelines for the conduct of road safety management capacity reviews published by the World Bank goes through each of the above recommendations and provides detailed advice for how to take them forward. It also suggest a specific management system also based on the safe systems principles and focusing on results.

The road safety management system is suggested divided in 3 areas:

  • Results (social cost, final outcomes, intermediate outcomes and outputs)
  • Interventions focusing on the road network (planning/design/operation, vehicles/drivers, recovery/rehabilitation of crash victims)
  • Institutional Management Functions (coordination, legislation, funding and resource allocation, monitoring and evaluation, and research/development and knowledge transfer)

The Country guidelines furthermore explain how management capacity can be build by using the road safety management system in the different stages of appraisal and implementation. Supporting tables and questionnaires are given to help assess the situation and provide assistance in identifying Safe System implementation projects strengthening the overall management system too.

The Towards Zero - Ambitious road safety targets and the safe systems approach by OECD, is a good source for identifying ambitious and achievable road safety targets recognizing that the road safety management system becomes critical for any country seeking to increase its road safety performance. It follows the above methodology and gives advice on how to get the needed political support to enhance road safety management practices in countries.

Though road safety management is traditionally a multi sectoral government responsibility (transport, health, education, police) it should be lead by a lead agency. There are often benefits working in partnership with other sectors like communities, private sector and NGO.

In Brazil, The Global Road Safety Partnership has very successfully worked with a number of Brazilian towns, implementing what is called the Proactive Partnership Strategy PPS. By strengthening the crash data collection, detailed analysis has been made to decide focus of preventative road safety activities in order to target risks where the highest return can be made. The majors and municipalities have taken on the role of PPS as the reductions of road crash victims has clear links with the municipal hospital expense budget. Click here to download the GRSP manual on how to start up and manage a PPS process.

Managing at project level

For managing projects related to the key risk factors recongised by the World Report, good practice manuals have been developed on: Helmets, Drink Drive, Speed and Seatbelt. They contain substantial advice on how to manage the projects. They take the user from how to undertake a problem assessment, to how to set up a working group, develop an action plan (including measures like engineering, enforcement, education and legislation/enforcement). Finally they provide advice on how to evaluate the key risk factor projects and programmes.


World Report

Towards Zero - Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System

Country Guidelines for the Conduct of Road Safety

Links to case studies