Safe System Approach

The Safe System Approach to road safety has proven to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries around the world. Safe systems principles are now being incorporated into traffic safety management throughout the United States. These principles correspond with the Toward Zero Deaths vision for zero fatalities on our nation’s roadways.

Everyone with a role in transportation shares in the stewardship of traffic safety. With the AASHTO Committee on Safety, Toward Zero Deaths is working to educate traffic safety and transportation practitioners on safety principle-based planning, design, construction, and operations.

Project Life Cycle Framework

Safe System principles should be integrated throughout the project life cycle, across all functions in a department of transportation (DOT). In the DOT’s organizational culture, safety is a value, a priority, and a responsibility that belongs to everyone.

AASHTO is working to develop resources tailored to specific DOT processes and functions throughout the project life cycle. The Project Life Cycle chart shows some simple examples of how each DOT function can apply safety principles to their day-to-day work.

Project Life Cycle Components

Example Activities


Project Development


Maintenance / Operations

The following resources demonstrate how to incorporate safety in all transportation disciplines and throughout the project delivery cycle. These resources are designed to help practitioners take action, both within their organizations and externally with other safety partners. We’ll continue to update this page with resources as they become available. Please contact us if you have an idea for a noteworthy example to share.


AASHTO Committee on Safety Meeting April 2022

Partner Resources

FHWA Safe System Approach Resources

The FHWA website provides foundational materials about the Safe System Approach and links to additional resources

ITE Safe System Approach Resources

The ITE website provides background information on the Safe System Approach, case studies, and links to noteworthy resources.

Road to Zero Coalition Safe System Approach Working Group

The Road to Zero Coalition website links to engagement opportunities, implementation tools, examples and case studies.

GHSA: The Role of Behavior in a Safe System

GHSA published a report and recorded webinars on the role of behavior in the Safe System Approach.

FHWA Vision Zero Community of Practice

The website offers technical resources to assist local communities in reaching their goal of zero traffic fatalities through the adoption and implementation of Vision Zero.

UNC Highway Safety Research Center synthesis report on international scan on safe systems
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UNC Highway Safety Research Center

Safe Systems Synthesis: An International Scan for Domestic Application Final Report 2018

CSCRS original Safe Systems report "Implementing Safe Systems in the United States" 2019
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UNC Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety

Safe Systems: Guiding Principles and International Applications

CSCRS report "Vision for a Safer Road System"
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UNC Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety

Vision for a Safer Road System