The evaluation of any crash should lead to responses that align with ERIC, aiming to eliminate the root causes and potential to create harm, wherever practicable. A systematic, evidence-based analysis of crashes will reveal why and how the crashes happened, and will enable the identification of potential mitigations likely to create maximum benefit.
System designers use various tools and techniques, including root-cause analysis and sequence of events. These tools enable the use of evidence-based interventions that support Vision Zero. Continuous review and feedback are essential to refine the system and design out the flawed aspects that lead to severe injury and death.
Broaden and Deepen Understanding
The paradigm shift to shared responsibility requires ongoing collaboration among system designers to create forgiving environments.
Providing guidance for drivers and other occupants of vehicles involved in an incident—enabling them to identify and seek the safest location while waiting for assistance—is an intrinsic part of the Safe System approach. The introduction of automated reporting systems—eCall in Europe and 911 in the United States—enables the road authorities to set signs and signals (where available) to warn oncoming vehicles of the crash or breakdown and to coordinate with emergency services more quickly and effectively.
Educating those who use the transport system—road users and stakeholders such as core responders—is also important in forming forgiving environments. Continual engagement and communication promote meaningful discussion, using the tools and media appropriate to the audience, such as desk-top exercises for emergency services. Designing elements into the system, such as road signs and markings, assist road users to drive as the system designers intended. Undertaking reviews enables system designers to understand how users respond to what they are expected to do.
The Safe System approach, as represented by Vision Zero and the ITS holistic perspective, expects system designers to allow for road user mistakes. This means that significant attention must be given to how people use the system and the factors that influence their decision-making and behaviour. A widespread attitudinal shift to apply this evolved point of view will go a long way toward creating safe road systems.
Education works in tandem with shifts in design to advance safety and reinforces shared responsibility between users and system designers. As society changes, so do expectations, perceptions and behaviours. Ongoing learning is essential for the safe use of road systems.
A holistic view of road transport systems, one that considers how the elements of each road system work together, creates the context for effective crash review and response. The application of data and objective analysis then enables crucial understanding of why and how failure occurred, to prevent any similar future occurrence. This approach enables the causes of failure to be designed out of road systems—essential to achieving the Vision Zero goal: zero deaths and serious injuries within the worldwide road transport system.
1 World Health Organization, Managing Speed, October 10, 2017
2 System designers – according to the Vision Zero approach - include policymakers, politicians/government officials, infrastructure owners and operators, planners, engineers and road designers, vehicle manufacturers, trauma and hospital care providers, enforcers, plus others who provide for the road transport system.
3 World Health Organization, Road Traffic Injuries
4 This assessment framework is explored in “On the ‘ITS’ Road Toward Vision Zero,” article No. 2 in the WSP ITS-Vision Zero series.
5 The ITS whole-system approach is explored in “Intelligent Transport Systems Advance Vision Zero Road Safety,” article No. 1. in the WSP ITS-Vision Zero series