Transportation Safety

Vision Zero

Vision Zero sets a target of zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. At the core of Vision Zero is an embrace of the Safe System Approach, a strategy of roadway safety management focusing on safety from all aspects of the roadway use experience, from design and operation, to driver behavior.

Vision Zero and the Safe System approach emphasize that some degree of roadway user error may occur, and that such errors should not result in a fatality or serious injury. Thus, while the onus is on the roadway user (whether that is a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist) to operate safely and within the rules and limitations of the roadway environment, the roadway itself must also be designed and operated to accommodate certain driver mistakes, and make any crashes that do occur survivable.

In practice, there is a strong emphasis on roadway design and operation that limits the kinematic impacts and stresses associated with any potential crashes, to those levels which are deemed survivable by the typical roadway user. Tactics such as speed management and traffic calming, physical separation of roadway users, and treatments that enhance visibility of vulnerable users to give drivers greater reaction time, all contribute to a portfolio of tools for ITE members to achieve Vision Zero within their communities.

For more information on Vision Zero, please visit the ITE Vision Zero Webpage.

A Safe System Approach

The Safe System Approach differs from conventional safety practice by being human-centered, i.e., seeking safety through vehicle or roadway design and operational changes rather than relying primarily on behavioral changes – and by fully integrating the needs of all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, older, younger, disabled, etc.) of the transportation system. The Safe System webpage was developed in partnership with the Road to Zero Coalition and members of the RTZ Safe System Working Group.

To learn more about how Safe System provides a safety-net for the user, visit the ITE Safe System page.

Speed Management

Speed management is an important element associated with transportation safety and Vision Zero. Approximately one third of all roadway fatalities each year are at least partially caused by speeding-related factors. Proper speed management ensures that roadway users are operating at speeds that are safe and appropriate for the given roadway environment, and that vulnerable roadway users (e.g., pedestrians, bicyclists) are protected from unsafe conditions caused by vehicle speed.

Speed management ensures that a context-appropriate speed limit is set. Speed limit setting, traffic calming, speed studies, and speed management are especially difficult in urban and suburban environments. Transportation professionals should take advantage of the full depth of resources, tools, and data collection techniques to provide a comprehensive speed management program, and help to eliminate speeding-related fatalities and serious injuries.

For critical resources and up-to-date information on speed management, ITE has created a Speed Management for Safety resource hub for use by all transportation professionals. 

Urban and Suburban Street Safety

Within the realm of transportation safety, urban and suburban contexts present unique challenges that must be considered. In high density urban spaces, ensuring a safe roadway environment for all users can be problematic due to the sheer number of competing needs (e.g., automobiles, delivery trucks, transit, pedestrians, bicyclists) and number of potential interactions for users (e.g., traffic signals, street signs, advertisements).

Suburban environments can also be challenging due to their nature of blending elements of the rural and urban environments. Many suburban areas are built primarily with automobile use in mind, lending themselves to straight, wide roadways with high posted speed limits, and limited or no accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. Issues such as long blocks (which limit crossing opportunities for pedestrians), infrequent transit service, and single-use land development further inhibit access for non-motorized users within the community. Moreover, the higher operating speeds of suburban environments frequently lead to crashes with greater likelihood of fatalities and serious injuries.

ITE is committed to ensuring that roadway users can have access to safe transportation in rural, urban, and suburban environments alike. Within urban and suburban contexts, below are some of the resources which can be useful for transportation professionals in planning and programming for safety within their jurisdictions:

Rural Road Safety

Similar to planning for safety in urban and suburban environments, rural contexts present their own set of challenges. In many rural areas, speeds are higher, roads are narrower, and the potential for issues such as driver fatigue, extreme weather, and animal-related incidents is increased. Additionally, when crashes do occur, access to appropriate medical facilities is often much lower than in urban and suburban environments.

ITE recognizes the unique challenges that rural environments can present when it comes to safety and understand that transportation professionals in these areas often have limited funding and staffing to address safety issues. Below are some resources that can be used by professionals in rural areas to improve transportation safety:

Public Safety

Engineering and education are two of the more traditional focuses for transportation engineers and planners. However, the importance of enforcement and emergency responses should not be understated, and both are critical elements of a successful roadway safety management program. The resources below describe two aspects of public safety resources that modern transportation professionals should consider.

  • Transportation Safety Advancement Group
    The Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) served an important function on behalf of the US Department of Transportation (US DOT), Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), and its ITS-Joint Program Office, (ITS-JPO). Through its members and allied stakeholder groups, TSAG identified surface transportation-based technologies and applications and promoted a national dialogue on public safety practitioners’ first hand experiences and corresponding best practices and lessons learned. Accordingly, TSAG looked toward a national transportation services Vision that fulfills a state of public safety such that: Public and transportation safety that is fully integrated and enabled through the use of technology. The Mission of TSAG was to identify and advance technologies to improve public safety response and efficacy in transportation systems and promote transportation safety and efficiency in concert with the U.S. Department of Transportation Joint Program Office.
  • Traffic Incident Management
    Traffic incident management (TIM) is a planned and coordinated multi-disciplinary process to detect, respond, and clear incidents from roadways so that movement may be restored safely and quickly. Effective application of TIM strategies can reduce the impacts and duration of incidents and improve the safety of motorists and pedestrians, crash victims and emergency responders.

Professional Development Courses

ITE offers a wide variety of professional development and training opportunities within transportation safety.

Road Safety Professional Certifications

Every year throughout the United States and Canada, more than 40,000 lives are lost due to road related fatalities. The Road Safety Professional (RSP) certifications 1 and 2 distinguish those individuals who have dedicated their careers to the continued improvement of our roadways and their safety features for all road users. These certifications are supported and sponsored by the Transportation Professional Certification Board (TPCB) in collaboration with other transportation and safety related organizations in the United States and Canada since 2018 to recognize road safety as a profession, establish a standardized level of practice and knowledge, and continue educational advocacy for the transportation public. For more information on the RSP Professional Certifications 1, 2 and SA, please click the links below. 

ITE Transportation Safety Council

The ITE Transportation Safety Council and Standing Committees collaborate and share best practices so that safety is prioritized in all surface transportation investment decisions. For more information, click on the pages below: