Achieving genuine and sustainable progress in reducing road trauma, requires an informed community, engaged in the issues and in public debate. There are some fundamental questions which can be raised as a means of fostering dialogue.

These include:

  • What level of road trauma are we prepared to accept?
  • What behaviour on the road is unacceptable and should be targeted through:
  • What further constraints on unsafe but legal behaviours would you accept to achieve a safer system? For example:
    • Lowering speed limits on some higher risk roads?
    • Tougher licence testing conditions and more structured licence graduation?
    • Tougher drink driving measures?
  • How much and in what way should we invest in improving the level of safety of the road network?
  • Is it acceptable that new cars in Australia not provide safety features currently widely available in Europe or North America?

These key issues deserve robust community discussion. So often however, the road safety community fails to provide quality information on relevant issues to the public. This is critical to developing greater awareness and understanding necessary for a more informed debate about how to improve road trauma outcomes.

The essential road safety questions and challenges, central to achieving success in delivering road trauma reductions, as set out in ‘arrive alive!’ Victoria’s Road Safety Strategy 2002 – 2007, remain. A safe system approach helps us to understand the interaction between road use elements and to develop effective countermeasures to address these key challenges.

VicRoads and the other Victorian road safety agencies adopted the ‘safe system’ approach as a basis for reducing road trauma in late 2003. It has been adopted by Austroads (2004) as a framework to guide road safety research programs and is a prominent guiding principle in the draft National Road Safety Action Plan, 2005-2006, for the integrated development and implementation of Road Safety Policy.

The ‘systematic/system wide’ approach is based on Swedish practice and experience, but in its application locally reflects the nature of the Victorian road transport system, its risks and characteristics. It provides a framework for identifying and analysing the interactions between elements of the road transport system including its use, and the associated crash and crash outcome risks.