Advance the Safe System approach

Goal for 2020

By 2020 New Zealand will have made demonstrable progress in creating a safe road system.

Where we are 

The agencies represented on the National Road Safety Committee are increasingly using the Safe System approach as a reference point in planning, developing and maintaining road transport. However work is still needed to embed the Safe System approach in all aspects of planning, implementation and communication. We also want to improve understanding and use of the Safe System approach to a wider group of system designers, including the private sector.

Public communication around road safety often focuses on blaming the driver, rider or pedestrian instead of taking a wider Safe System view that considers vehicles, roads and roadsides, speed, and all road users.  

Where we want to be by 2020

By 2020 we want the Safe System approach to be accepted and followed as the approach for improving road safety.

Legal and technical changes around road safety remain useful road safety tools but can only take us part of the way to a safe road system. We want to have engaged with all system designers, and to have built a sense of shared responsibility and purpose.

A shift in public understanding and perception and demand for road safety is also needed.  In particular we need the public actively demanding a more forgiving road system.   


Work will continue on the actions to embed the Safe System identified in the 2016-2020 Action Plan.

Actions already underway to communicate and embed the Safe System approach and grow capability in applying it will continue as part of core business. 

Establish a Safe System partnership programme

Safer Journeys emphasises shared responsibility for road safety, and the Safe System approach recognises the vital role that local government, the private sector, advocacy groups and the community play in road safety.

We want to establish a collaborative network, share good practice, and seek ways to improve road safety outside of traditional approaches, establishing new working models and funding mechanisms where necessary.

Reframe the road safety conversation

We need to raise awareness of what really contributes to road safety and what actions reflect that understanding. A key step will be to increase community understanding that compliance alone will not guarantee safety on the roads. 

We need people to accept the continuing challenge of working together to reduce community acceptance of road death and serious injury, because road safety is everyone’s responsibility. The aim is have communities who demand a safer road system forgiving of human error.

Better conversations on road risk

This programme has been designed to enable people to enter into and have better conversations about road risk in their community.

If you read the news, browse social media, or speak with friends or colleagues, you often hear misinformation about speed and risk on the road. The current conversation is often unbalanced, and can stop people from really considering what it takes to keep themselves and others safe.

This toolkit is intended to help you – community and business leaders, road designers and builders, law enforcement and policy makers, educators and road safety partners – have those conversations and gain perspectives. The content is designed to enable you to enter and have better conversations about road risk in your community.

Safe System

A Safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury