By: Danielle Betkey, Chimai Ngo, Jeff Shaw, and Karen Scurry, FHWA Office of Safety

Imagine a future in the United States where no one dies in a traffic-related crash. Thinking about safety requires a paradigm shift in how we perceive the problem. Rather than accepting fatalities and serious injuries as a price for mobility, the philosophy of the Safe System Approach is grounded in an ethical imperative that no one should be killed or injured when using the road system. FHWA supports the long-term vision of zero deaths on our Nation’s highways and recognizes that the Safe System Approach is how we get there.

Spreading the Word about the Safe System Approach

A key factor in successful implementation of the Safe System Approach is educating transportation professionals. FHWA developed marketing and outreach materials to support education activities. Federal, State, regional, and local safety professionals can include the Safe System Approach as part of every discussion and schedule formal opportunities to promote the Safe System Approach at various conferences and events.

The following resources are available to broaden understanding of the Safe System Approach:

  • The Safe System Approach flyer provides a high-level overview of the principles and core elements of the Safe System Approach. It also presents the differences between this new approach and traditional road safety practices.
  • The Safe System Approach presentation introduces the Safe System Approach with in-depth discussions of its principles and elements. It contains both speaker notes and background information and can be tailored for delivery to State and local audiences.
  • On March 10, FHWA hosted a webinar to walk through the content of the presentation. If you missed the webinar, you can listen to the recording and consider how you might help spread the word—for example, which of your partners and stakeholders might benefit from this presentation and how you might reach these audiences (e.g., via webinar, conference, board meeting).

For additional information, contact

Integrating the Safe System Approach in Existing Safety Programs

The HSIP, which sets the funding and policy tone for national safety implementation efforts, is a key place to start implementing the Safe System Approach. The informational report on Integrating the Safe System Approach with the Highway Safety Improvement Program explores the relationship between the Safe System Approach and the HSIP. It examines foundational elements of the HSIP and the major program features of the State Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) and State HSIP as compared to Safe System Approach principles. This report demonstrates that while Safe System Approach principles are currently present in many components of the State SHSP and HSIP processes, there are additional opportunities to bring these two key safety programs into further alignment with Safe System Approach principles and elements. The report concludes with a discussion of next steps for Federal and State safety stakeholders to advance the implementation of the Safe System Approach through these existing safety programs. Each chapter includes a series of questions Federal, State, and local partners responsible for roadway safety can use to identify State-specific opportunities to move toward a safe system.

On March 25, FHWA hosted a webinar featuring a panel discussion with presentations from FHWA on the report and two State agencies discussed their experiences with integrating Safe System Approach principles into the HSIP and SHSP. If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording here.

For additional information about integrating the Safe System Approach into your existing safety programs, contact Danielle Betkey at or Karen Scurry at

Implementing the Safe System Approach in Project Development

A safe system can be most effective when it institutionalizes its implementation at all levels of roadway planning and engineering, and across all disciplines that have a hand in supporting roadway safety.

The Safe System-based Framework and Analytical Methodology for Assessing Intersections report is focused on the practitioner community. It provides a basis to assess intersection alternatives according to Safe System Approach principles using a kinetic energy management approach. Outreach, training, and assistance will be offered in 2021. You can read about this report in the article by Jeff Shaw in this issue, entitled “Advancing the Safe System Approach through Intersections.” For more information contact Jeff Shaw at

The Safe System Approach is a relatively new concept in the United States and implementation will require a one-step-at-a-time, collaborative approach, which will be specific to each implementing jurisdiction. Zero is our goal, and a safe system is how we get there.