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Can 'Safe System' Approach Prove to be a Boon in Road Safety

  • Uncategorized
  • Aug 06, 2021

A new approach to road safety based on a new design and engineering principles, the "Safe System" approach, could lead to a dramatic reduction in vehicle-related deaths and injuries if it is implemented in the United States, according to a report by a consortium of experts that was convened by researchers of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. The Safe System approach can design road systems in such a way that they prove to be safe when used intuitively, just as people normally uses them. The Safe System minimizes the possibility of errors for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists and reduces the severity of accidents when they occur. This approach, which includes the use of roundabouts, separate cycle paths, bumps and other measures, has been already successful in several other countries. When first introduced in Sweden in 1990, the system effectively reduced the road deaths by about 67 percent between 1990 and 2017. It can effectively bridge the safety gap between well-served and historically underserved communities. Since 2009, the death rate from road accidents has remained relatively stable, at around 11 deaths per 100,000 populations, mainly as a result of the automotive safety revolution. Still accidents remain the leading cause of death among young people since 1990. In the U.S. the death toll has risen 8% year over year from the last year, despite the fact that people drove significantly fewer cars, with an estimated 42,000 deaths in car accidents and 4.8 million injuries.

The proposal from the Safe Systems Consortium report was released on May 11th. The consortium, consisting a group of more than two dozen leading road engineers, scientists, and public health professionals, met earlier this year to reinvent road safety and justice in this country. “As a new Presidential administration report is underway, we the lawmakers are adopting a paradigm shift in how we approach road safety in the US with the potential to dramatically reduce the number of vehicle injuries and related deaths we see every day”, says co-author Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Bloomberg School and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. “We see the Safe System approach as a way to integrate safety into our existing road system to make safety an essential and spontaneous for those who use the roads, so that they feel most comfortable and safe while driving or walking” he further says.

“This is the safest”, says co-author Jeffrey Michael, EdD, former senior officer of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, now Distinguished Scholar in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Leon Chair of Teacher Development S. Robertson in Injury Prevention at Bloomberg School .The author also noted that in the existing traditional road safety strategy in the United States, people who drive, walk, or cycle the streets bear much of the responsibilities for their road safety.