The role of Safe Systems in achieving Vision Zero

Posted 22 Aug 2022

Since 2020, when we shared our first blog explaining Vision Zero, we have seen an ever-increasing number of governments, state bodies, and county councils implementing Vision Zero.  

To achieve the vision of zero road accident-related deaths or injuries the Safe System approach was developed. It promotes a holistic approach across all the stakeholders of the transportation system and has gained traction in the UK and US. The Safe System approach comprises of 5 pillars or elements;  

  1. Safe roads
  2. Safe speeds
  3. Safe vehicles
  4. Safe road use
  5. Post-crash care
Vehicle Blind Spot Camera

Reducing the response time to road hazards for all road users

One of the aims of the safe roads and safe speeds pillars is to reduce the time it takes for drivers to respond to collision risks. They are focused on intelligent road design and optimal road speed limits.  

In hot spots with high levels of interaction between non-motorists and motorists and areas of high traffic congestion these play a crucial role in providing drivers more time to respond to road hazards and help avoid road death and injury.  

The sooner a driver becomes aware of a potential road hazard, the more able they are to react appropriately, and technology developments are also playing a crucial role in this.

  • Vehicle mounted cameras provide additional visibility to the driver of blind spots.
  • Advances in smart voice-tech are removing any need for drivers to interact with their phones and reducing potential sources of distraction.
  • Notifications to drivers are becoming more informative with sensor triggered blind spot live view of collision risks via in-cab monitors, as well as audible sound alerts.

Safety checks ensure a safe and road worthy vehicle

The safe vehicles pillar means that vehicles should be designed and regulated to minimize the occurrence and severity of collisions by utilising safety design principles, and vehicle safety checking systems. Advanced technology is a critical element in ensuring commercial fleet vehicles are safe. 

  • Pre-trip and post-trip maintenance and safety checks have become a standard practice across commercial fleets, assisted by connected mobile apps, automated workflows and cloud storage of daily video checks.
  • Telematics data that tracks the fuel efficiency of vehicles can also alert drivers and fleet managers to poorly performing vehicles and potential maintenance and safety issues that need investigation.
  • Vehicle performance data combined with remote driver reports and alerts is increasingly being used to automate maintenance checks and schedule vehicle servicing or retirement.

A driving assistant for safer road use – an additional set of eyes

The safe roads pillar addresses the safety of all road users, including those who walk, bike, drive, ride transit, and travel by other modes. Regulatory and legal systems are responding to this broader definition with higher expectations of transportation system stakeholders, increasing the consequences of being found at fault for road deaths or injury.  

In the US “nuclear” verdicts are more frequently impacting the trucking industry. This has contributed to insurance becoming more unaffordable and unavailable for some trucking companies. 

The Safe System recognizes human error will occur and proposes actions to reduce the frequency and impact.   

Vehicle mounted smart cameras and sensors are playing an important role in identifying and alerting drivers early to potential road hazards.   

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is helping to identify and notify drivers early of collision risks with other vehicles and road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.  
  • AI is being adopted to help drivers remain self-aware and alert to driver fatigue and distractions. 
In-cab Monitor Truck HGV Blind Spot

Video evidence and accurately identifying the cause of road accidents

Video evidence and accurately identifying the cause of road accidents 

The post-crash pillar of the safe system is focused on eliminating road injury and death through post-crash care and investigation. Investigations can be difficult depending on the quality of evidence available to the investigator. 

The increased adoption of video telematics across the transportation industry, is streamlining and accelerating the investigation process by providing sensor data and rich video evidence of road incidents.  

  • Video footage acts as an independent witness, that offers irrefutable evidence of actual events.
  • Information is retrievable instantly because of cloud-based hosting, expediting the crash-investigation process.
  • Highlighting the reality of crash-for-cash schemes, and the danger they pose to all road users.