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The Safe System Approach

​Early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash fatality data for 2020 show that approximately 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes, a startling increase of about 7.2 percent compared to 2019. Additionally, the estimated fatality rate is the highest since 2007. This comes at a time when vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. decreased by about 13.2 percent in 2020. The conventional approach to road safety in the U.S. will not drive down fatalities and injuries; we need a paradigm shift. Reaching zero will require a transition to a holistic, Safe System approach. 

The principles underpinning the Safe System acknowledge that: humans make mistakes that lead to traffic crashes, but no one should lose their life or be seriously injured as a result of a crash; the human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces; road safety is a shared responsibility; and all parts of the system must be strengthened so that if one part fails, road users are still protected. Implementing a Safe System approach will require collaborative engagement among a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure all road users are safe.

Over the coming months, Chair Jennifer Homendy will host a series of Safe System Roundtable discussions with experts on these topics. The objectives are:

  • To better understand the Safe System Approach, how it differs from our current approach to road safety in the U.S., and the benefits of a Safe System Approach. 
  • To explore the current state of the Safe System approach in the U.S. and to learn from international partners and stakeholders from cities across the US that have moved toward a safe system approach.
  • To identify what actions need to be taken to move toward a Safe System approach.

This Roundtable series consists of the following events

Upcoming events:

Safe Road​s - October 6, 2021

Safe Roads

Post-Crash Care


Past events:

A Safe System​ - July 7, 202​1

​​​Safe Speeds: Eliminating Speeding-Related Crashes - July 21, 2021​

Safe Vehicles - September 9, 2021