A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
Adopting the Safe System Approach is a commitment to the principles which puts safety at the heart of planning, design and engineering without sacrificing other operational requirements. It recognises the limitations of the human body and sets safety as a precondition for satisfactory road use.
The focus is on the prevention of fatalities and serious injuries rather than simply on collisions, enforcing the belief that saving lives is possible and any loss of life is unacceptable. Human life, rather than the vehicle, is positioned at the heart of the system; the assumption is made that all road traffic deaths and serious injuries are predictable and preventable.
The safe systems approach is based upon the notion that:
- We can never entirely eradicate road collisions because there will always be a degree of human error;
- When collisions do occur the human body is inherently vulnerable to death or injury; and
- Because of this, we should manage our infrastructure, vehicles and speeds to reduce crash energies to levels that can be tolerated by the human body.
The 2010 United Nations Global Plan for Road Safety promotes a ‘five pillar’ strategic approach for managing road safety and creating a truly safe system:
- Pillar 1: Road Safety Management
- Pillar 2: Safer Roads and Mobility
- Pillar 3: Safer Vehicles
- Pillar 4: Safer Road Users
- Pillar 5: Post Crash Response
Fig.1 shows how the framework themes align with pillars of the Safe System Approach.
In the instance of motorcycle safety, the key areas are rider behaviour, other road user behaviour, road and infrastructure design and maintenance and finally the vehicle itself. Addressing these areas is intended to reduce the likelihood of one of these components of the system failing and in turn reducing the consequences to the individual of that failure. A failure to address all of the safe system pillars could lead to an avoidable incident, an example being aquaplaning, whereby if the rider is suitably trained, the tyres have sufficient tread depth, the speed has been reduced due to the knowledge of the risks of standing water and the drainage of the roads is adequate, then the risk of aquaplaning and the likely consequences of aquaplaning are both very small. However, if one of those factors is failing, then the potential for a catastrophic incident is high. This is clearly illustrated in the ’Swiss Cheese Model’ (Figure 2) which shows how failure to address all the Safe System pillars can lead to an ‘Accident’
Figure 2 ‘The Swiss Cheese Model’
Clearly it will not always be possible to prevent a collision from occurring, the Safe System acknowledges this, but by ensuring a holistic approach rather than considering each element in isolation, the likelihood of death or serious injury should be minimized.
2 The Highways England Customer Panel website hosted a range of activities during its monthly activity window, which ran between 5 and 14 August 2016. This activity report is based on 552 responses.