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Protect Vulnerable Road Users Through a Safe System Approach

​​​​​​​​​​​​Our roadways were designed to move motor vehicles safely and efficiently. They often do not fully meet the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists-our vulnerable road users (VRUs). As a result, we are seeing increasing dangers to this population and too many crashes involving vehicles and VRUs.

We must use a Safe System approach to better protect VRUs and ens​ure safe roads for all. A Safe System addresses all aspects of traffic safety: road users, vehicles, speeds, roads, and postcrash care. We must make better safety investments, from road treatments, vehicle design, and collision-avoidance systems to strong traffic safety laws and robust education efforts to mitigate injury risks for all road users.

Unlike motor vehicles, VRUs lack an external structure to protect them when crashes occur, and they're more likely to suffer a serious injury or even death. Proven, effective countermeasures are being underused at the federal, state, and local levels to protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. We have long been concerned with the threat to VRUs. In 2018 and 2019, we published three reports on the risks to this vulnerable population and issued more than 30 new recommendations focused on reducing VRU traffic deaths.

Lessons Learned: NTSB Investigations

The following reports and studies best exemplify why this safety improvement is needed.

Report image.Collision Between Pickup Truck with Trailer and Group of Motorcycles
Randolph, NH | June 2019

Report image.Safety Study: Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways:
Crash Risks and Countermeasures | November 2019

Report image.Special Investigation Report:
Pedestrian Safety | September 2018

Report image.Safety Report: Select Risk Factors Associated with Causes of
Motorcycle Crashes | September 2018

Report image.Safety Study: Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes
Involving Passenger Vehicles | July 2017

Report image.Safety Study: Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that
Resulted in Injuries and Deaths | June 2013

Stats to Know


Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2019 (Source: NHTSA)


Increase in pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorcyclist fatalities (combined), as a proportion of overall traffic fatalities, since 2010, whereas fatalities in nearly all other segments decreased during the same period. (Source: NHTSA)

Our Solutions . . . Take Action Now!

We recommend federal regulators and states adopt a Safe System approach to help prevent crashes between motor vehicles and VRUs. We also want to see an increased use of protective equipment, such as motorcycle helmets, and advanced vehicle technologies, such as collision-avoidance technologies and advanced headlights. These technologies will reduce the severity of injuries to VRUs involved in crashes.​

See our specific detailed recommendations.

​Updated December 23, 2022​