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Why the 'Safe System'?

In 2019, 166 people lost their lives and about another 2,000 people were seriously injured in road crashes on Western Australian roads.

The Safe System recognises it is not possible to prevent all crashes but aims to prevent serious injuries by seeking to better manage the interaction between road users, roads and roadsides, travel speeds and modes of transport.

Road designers, engineers and users are required to understand and accept that no one should be killed or seriously injured by a crash.

"Better ways to protect lives and prevent serious injuries on the roads exist in a Safe System. The time to act boldly is now. Visionary, strong and sustained leadership is vital."

- International Transport Forum 2016

safe system principles

A Safe System is based on four guiding principles that inform thinking and policy to manage design and operation of the road network to ultimately eliminate road deaths and serious injuries.

1. People make mistakes that can lead to road crashes

The Safe System starts by putting people who walk, ride or drive at the centre or heart of the road transport system.

While people know (and mostly do) the right thing, some take risks deliberately or spontaneously and all make mistakes that can result in crashes.

2. The human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces before harm occurs

The human body has different tolerance limits in different crash scenarios.

Modern vehicles are increasingly better at absorbing kinetic energy in a crash – limiting its transfer into the human body where it causes trauma.

For example, a person walking has a 30km/h tolerance limit when struck, compared to a 70km/h tolerance limit for a driver involved in a head-on collision.

3. A shared responsibility to prevent crashes resulting in serious injury or death

There is a shared responsibility between all those who design, maintain, and use our road systems, and in those who provide post-crash care.

Individuals, governments, agencies, companies and community groups all have a shared responsibility.

On top of this, data analysis plays an important role in identifying existing risks and trends, and then in developing priorities and response plans to improve our road systems.

4. All parts of the system must be strengthened to multiple their effects

All parts of the system must be strengthened to multiply their effects so if one part fails, other aspects are still present, so road users remain protected.

we all have our part to play

Road safety does not exist in isolation. It is an outcome of the combined efforts of public and private organisations working together.

Some agencies, such as Police, Education, Transport, Main Roads and many others play an integral part in prevention of road trauma.

Agencies such as Health play a key role in providing medical care and ongoing support to victims of road trauma and their families.

Many organisations contribute in other ways, from prevention and education to care and ongoing support.

Previously, social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse and the mental and physical health of our population were rarely considered in the context of road safety.

However, Safe System integration with public policy outcomes in ares of public health, environment, congestion reduction and planning for active, connected and vibrant communities will benefit our community whilst delivering road safety outcomes.

In 2017, the WA Premier announced changes aimed at creating a high performing and collaborative public sector that delivered better services to the Western Australian community.

Government agencies are now working together more effectively to tackle issues such as road safety.

WA's resources are more focused, delivering greater value for money and reducing the impact of road trauma on other agencies such as Health.