It is a challenging and potentially lengthy process for a road authority to move from adopting Safe System principles to implementing these within a road authority’s operations. Progress will be measured in years rather than months. Moving to embed a Safe System approach is likely to involve the following:
A summary of some key issues and potential actions or processes associated with moving to embed the Safe System within a road authority’s management systems is set out in Table 7.2.
How can a road authority commence the process of embedding the Safe System approach in its operational practice?
Role statements and accountabilities at all levels in the road authority should reflect the actions and outputs expected to deliver Safe System progress
How to commence/continue the transition from traditional approaches to the Safe System philosophy
Ensure that there is a high degree of understanding of the benefits associated with the proactive risk minimisation approach. The Safe System principles and scientific design foundations should be clearly and consistently communicated to agency staff and stakeholders. The economic and safety benefits of adopting this approach should be demonstrated through case studies and communicated widely within the organisation
How to implement Safe System principles in horizontal and vertical corporate communication and decision-making processes
Corporate processes need to have Safe Systems outcomes embedded in them to strengthen development of a continuously learning organisation
Continuous policy development should also be informed from operational development and implementation experience. Feedback from these activities is an essential means of improving policies and guidelines to embrace and deliver Safe System outcomes
Formalised arrangements for the new ways of managing safety on the network
Apply these policies and develop supporting systems to incorporate proactive network safety management within the planning, project development, design, operation and maintenance activities of the authority.
Establish ongoing performance measurement of safety outcomes to assure the community that the level of the authority’s safety performance is improving
Addressing community/stakeholder awareness and acceptance of implications of adopting Safe Systems principles
Develop a communication strategy with agreed key messages and mediums for dialogue with identified stakeholders.
At the outset, any existing national road safety strategy will need to be reviewed and if necessary adjustments to the strategy made to include the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety’s Safe System basis. It is expected that many LMICs will need to review the adequacy of their processes (see Establishing Corporate Processes to Develop Policy in Embedding the Safe System in the Goals and Operational Practice of Road Authorities for guidance on this).
The leadership will also need to recognise the changed organisational responsibilities that will flow from these decisions and consider how to go about providing for these changes. The needs and the environment in which the road authority in any country is operating will influence the detail of this.
Progress will depend heavily on leadership provided by the chief executive. These are quite challenging change management tasks, winning the support and commitment of senior management within the organisation is a key first step and priority.
Training programmes, such as those outlined in Learning and Knowledge Development in Embedding the Safe System in the Goals and Operational Practice of Road Authorities will be important on an ongoing basis as improved corporate policies and network management systems are adopted by the organisation. For any road authority moving to embed Safe System practice, senior and middle management need sufficient time to learn about and understand the underlying concepts.
The internal communication processes in place to support change management also need to be reviewed if meaningful change is to be introduced over time. This would include effective communication across all levels of government and between head and regional offices.
The experience of the Swedish Road Administration in introducing Safe System (Vision Zero) thinking and moving to implement associated and substantially different infrastructure safety programmes across the organisation is instructive (see Box 7.6)
From 2000 to 2009, Sweden moved to increase the 2 + 1 barrier divided road network on the more heavily trafficked sections of the national highway network. The length of this treatment increased from 180 km in 2000 to some 2120 km in 2009. This was to address the high incidence of head-on crashes experienced on the network, due in part to the existing 13 metre wide pavements (two through lanes with wide shoulders), which encouraged a form of four-lane driver behaviour, leading to increased head-on crash risk. Sweden also began to install side barriers to address run-off-road serious crash risk and to expand programmes to install roundabouts to address serious crash risks at intersections.
The decision made at head office for barrier expansion, in particular from 2000, took some time to achieve general compliance and support by all regional managers. In fact, performance targets for regional managers (for 2 + 1 lanes with wire rope median barriers) were required in order to drive compliance with corporate policy. Some regional managers considered the policy directives for central medians and 2 + 1 lane construction to not be in accordance with traditional approaches.
Road fatalities fell from 550 to some 350 annually in that 10-year period as the roll-out proceeded, and became an acknowledged world leading set of initiatives (part of the Vision Zero implementation).
Box 7.7 outlines an example of a road authority, which sets out the basis for its transformation to an authority that will fully integrate Safe System thinking into its activities and the associated strategic objective it has adopted. Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) is an informed user of the Safe System, with an understanding of, and experience with, its application. The process MRWA has adopted to guide its use of Safe System principles within its operations is comprehensive and informative for other road authorities that are in a similar advanced stage of awareness of the Safe System.
To eliminate death and serious injury crashes on the Western Australian road network and leave a lasting legacy of a safe road system for our children, grandchildren and the community.
The MRWA road safety strategy The Road Towards Zero is aimed at bringing about changes to our road safety institutional arrangements, practices and culture as we strive to eliminate death and serious injury. In doing so it will:
The Road Towards Zero’s strategic objective reﬂects this focus on cultural change: To change thinking, practice and behaviour – to let staff imagine all things possible – to build, maintain and operate an inherently safe road system.
As indicated earlier, relevant legislation under which the road authority operates will influence the way that the authority proceeds to implement a Safe System approach.
Building awareness of Safe System possibilities and application will be achieved through leadership, training and knowledge development as discussed in detail in The Safe System Approach. Resourcing this awareness building is a critical step for LMICs.
Effective training and change management activities will be crucial enablers to achieving Safe System progress. New Zealand, which has a well-advanced Safe System approach has implemented sector-wide training programmes through the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) (Climo et al., 2014) as presented in Box 7.8
Safer Journeys (the NZ strategy) acknowledged the need to embed the Safe System into New Zealand’s road safety culture and to develop the capability to do so. Within four years of adopting a Safe System approach the NZTA has moved to incorporate Safe System processes within its operations.
A structured ‘culture change’ programme was embarked upon, which provided detail about what it meant in practice and what it needed to do differently. Supporting resources were developed as follows:
A range of existing policy, procedure and guideline documents, likely to have the greatest influence, were identified and a programme of updating these embarked upon.
The second Safer Journeys Action Plan (2013-15) has continued this focus with specific ‘Advance the Safe System’ tasks that include:
Source: Climo et al. (2014).
NZTA’s experience has demonstrated that culture change is not a short-term or easy task. It requires leadership from the highest level such as politicians and chief executives and perseverance, with continual repetition of simple key messages. It has also been recognised that changing the conversation in the media, away from the ‘driver blame’ culture, will be critical to success.
Effective staff development will require programmes such as New Zealand’s (above) and other more ‘entry-level’ programmes to be identified and then utilised for relevant professional development of staff, particularly within LMIC authorities. Activities such as short-term (two to four week duration) staff exchanges with other national road authorities, and seminars by local and international experts to inform and obtain input about road safety policy-related matters, should also be pursued.
A continuous change and improvement culture should be fostered, with an extended training programme for head office staff and the regions being introduced at the appropriate time. These are pivotal steps in helping to underpin safety knowledge and fostering improvement in safety performance by a road authority.
Initiatives to assist focused application of Safe System principles within road authority programmes and projects include:
Many professionals within road authorities learn about crash analysis, development of treatment options, selection of the most cost-effective option (with a focus on reducing fatal and serious injury crashes, as distinct from all crashes), and implementation, through high-risk location (blackspot) projects and programmes. On the contrary, it would be preferable for a road authority to move as soon as possible to a network-wide assessment and treatment of crash risk, high-risk location treatment projects – which are based on solid evidence of crash types and robust estimations of project costs and crash reduction benefits, followed by later evaluation – are a key learning tool for professional road safety engineers that are starting out in road infrastructure safety. Such projects, as long as they are pursued with a clear Safe System focus and basic initial understanding, are important steps for individuals along the path to broader understanding of crash risk and tools.
Examples of demonstration projects in a number of countries by all the road safety agencies, including the road authority, to improve crash risk analysis and treatment knowledge are provided in Road Safety Targets, Investment Strategies Plans and Projects.
Change is always challenging and the scale of reassessment or reframing of policies and guidelines involved with fully embracing the Safe System is substantial. These are large steps for any road authority, but it is a substantial challenge when a typical LMIC authority embarks on this journey. Moving from understanding by individuals to adoption of a corporate consensus and then agreeing on the new road safety vision and how it is to be applied is a challenging process for any road authority. Processes of this type will be less developed in most LMIC road authorities but dialogue and discussion need to be encouraged as soon as possible by their leaders. It is likely to take time and leadership to implement a significant change to established corporate policy-making processes.
To support the substantial policy development task of establishing road safety priorities, road authorities in LMICs could usefully establish working groups to examine issues and develop detailed and implementable policy recommendations for senior management. Each group would have:
These working groups would report to senior management, which could be convened as a senior road safety planning group on a regular basis. Priority policy issues could include:
An authority with more developed corporate decision making processes could follow a Project Review Committee approach to develop and progress an expanded crash risk reduction programme. The committee would be made up of the senior engineering executives of the organisation and would review presentations by project staff on larger proposed projects on a regular (possibly weekly) basis. Project proponents would be queried on higher-level key issues, (estimated cost, asset management, delivery, environmental and land acquisition, mobility and access, traffic management and road safety).
Safety discussions would centre on measures proposed to improve safety within new projects or the existing safety issues on an existing road which is to be upgraded and measures to be taken to address these. Corporate road safety policies, guidelines and standards would be reviewed and adjusted, or introduced, as a result of these discussions and associated further reviews.
As indicated in Learning and Knowledge Developments in Embedding the Safe System in the Goals and Operational Practice of Road Authorities, the previous exposure to blackspot programmes is relevant, as these activities sensitise a road authority not only to opportunities for improving levels of safety on the network but also to the disadvantages of only treating high-risk locations, leaving lower-risk lengths untreated and less likely to be treated.
The Project Review Committee approach recognises that embedding the Safe System requires an organisation-wide dialogue at the senior management level about network operating responsibilities, as well as a similar dialogue at project or programme-specific levels (e.g. where bicycle paths along existing arterial roads should be located on the cross-section of an upgrade or new road project).
The production of quality policies, guidelines and standards follows as a next step. These will be developed over time and will be quite varied in nature, reflecting the stage of safety development of a road authority and its immediate safety priorities. Further advice on the role of policies, standards and tools and their development is provided in Chapter 9, Infrastructure Safety Management: Policies, Standards, Guidelines and Tools along with examples.
An Example: Some road-safety-related policy gaps that were identified as needing to be addressed by the Indonesian Directorate General of Highways (DGH) in a review in 2013 of the overall strategic plan are summarised below. They are down to earth, practical policy initiatives, including:
As an example, the City of Abu Dhabi has worked to develop urban design guidelines for application across the urban streets of the city to improve sustainable safety and amenity for pedestrians, public transit users and cyclists and give these road users priority through these treatments. This outlined in the case study below.
The steps outlined in Setting a New Strategic Objective to Producing Policies and Guidelines from Embedding the Safe System in the Goals and Operational Practice of Road Authorities will provide the guidance required for embedding the Safe System within management and operation of the network. However, there is another step required of road authorities. They need to progressively apply the policies they are developing and to build supportive management systems to ensure their network management activities incorporate all the guidance they have prepared.
A road authority will need to take steps to incorporate safety management systems within its network planning and operations. This can be pursued through measures such as:
A road authority will need to progressively assure itself and the community that it is making progress with improving its network safety management and operation. This assurance can be sought through:
For most LMICs, the identification and adoption of specific safety KPIs will be a useful way to measure performance and build accountability over time.
All road safety strategies should have specific KPIs. The introduction of KPIs allows authorities to specify the level of improved road safety achievement sought and/or to encourage active development and achievement of road safety improvement programmes.
One consequence of a lack of high-level road safety KPIs can be the absence of an identifiable separate budget allocation for specific road safety programmes. Funding allocation categories within LMIC road authorities typically include routine maintenance, periodic maintenance, rehabilitation and reconstruction. One of the benefits of a separate allocation for specific safety programmes is the ability to measure overall expenditure on targeted safety works and to determine economic return on investment.
Good network safety performance needs to be considered a major organisational output for a road authority. Over time, safety-related corporate-level KPIs are likely to move from initial introduction in many LMICs to ‘centre stage’ importance in the authority’s overall performance assessment.
A range of more detailed performance indicators will need to be developed to enable progress with implementation of infrastructure safety treatments. Once KPIs are agreed it is necessary to establish how they will be measured and reported, and determine the frequency at which this will take place (see performance indicators discussion in The Road Safety Management System, Effective Management And Use Of Safety Data and Road Safety Targets, Investment Strategies Plans and Projects). Example KPIs from the Global Plan are provided in Box 7.9.
The Global Plan for the Decade of Action (see The UN Decade of action and global plan) includes performance indicators for the safer roads and mobility pillar. Although these are targeted at the monitoring of activity at global level, they serve as useful examples for use by individual countries. The indicators are categorised as ‘Core’ and ‘Optional’.
Source: UNRSC, 2011