Scotland's Road Safety Framework

To help achieve our vision, the framework identifies five outcomes:

Digram showing The Safe System approach

Safe Road Use

Safe road users are competent at all levels, including: paying full attention to the road ahead and the task in hand; adapting to the conditions (weather, the presence of other users, etc.); travelling at lower speeds; not driving while impaired through drink, drugs (including medicines) or fatigue; not being distracted by in-vehicle technology (mobile phones, entertainment systems, sat navs, etc.); and giving sufficient room to all other road users, no matter what their mode of travel.

Safe road users are mindful of the hierarchy of road users, which ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others. They respect other road users at all times and assume responsibility for others’ safety as well as their own.

Measures to encourage safe road use also include working together to reduce car-based traffic, inspiring people to use active modes, such as walking, cycling, wheeling or to use public transport rather than their own vehicles.

Education interventions are also important, to ensure road users are risk-aware, can develop coping strategies for high-risk situations, and act appropriately to keep themselves and others safe on the road.

Safe Roads and Roadsides

In a Safe System, roads and roadsides are designed to reduce the risk of collision, and to mitigate the severity of injury should a collision occur. A combination of the design and maintenance supported by the implementation of a range of strategies to ensure that roads and roadsides can be as safe as possible can reduce casualties on our roads. One way in which this can be achieved is to both segregate different kinds of road users and the traffic moving in different directions or at different speeds. If this is not possible, promoting positive behaviours and safer sharing of spaces, as well as the appropriate use of speed limits and signage, can also be a much more affordable and sustainable way to protect the most vulnerable road users.

Safe Speeds

Speed limits in a Safe System are based on aiding crash-avoidance and reducing the speed at which impacts occur. This ensures the body’s limit for physical trauma is not reached or exceeded. The Safe System aims to establish appropriate speed limits according to the features of the road, the function it serves, and the physical tolerance of those who use it.

The key factors that should be taken into account in any decisions on local speed limits are:

  • history of collisions
  • road geometry and engineering
  • road function
  • composition of road users (including existing and potential levels of vulnerable road users)
  • existing traffic speeds
  • road environment

Safe Vehicles

Vehicles are designed and regulated to minimise the occurrence and consequences of collisions to road users. This applies not only to vehicle occupants, but also to pedestrians, cyclists, horse-riders and motorcyclists. Making vehicles safer involves both ‘active’ safety measures, such as autonomous emergency braking, which can prevent collisions occurring in the first place, and ‘passive’ safety measures, such as seatbelts and airbags, which protect occupants (and other road users) if a collision does occur. It is also vital to ensure vehicle roadworthiness is regulated to the highest standards. Technology within vehicles, such as feedback from the speedometer and seatbelt reminders can also educate road users about safe road use.

Increasingly, roads and vehicles will be managed within an intelligent transport system, relying on ever-more autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure. As safety becomes hardwired into vehicle technology and road design, there is potential to further reduce road casualties and deaths through this route.

Post-Crash Response

It is vital to work with the emergency services and the National Health Service (NHS) to enable the best possible response to collisions, ensure victims are effectively cared for, and facilitate meaningful investigations into the causes and potential solutions for the future. Health outcomes for victims rely on the ability of the system to quickly locate and provide emergency first responder care, in order to stabilise victims and transport them to hospital for further specialist treatment.

They describe the road safety environment it aims to deliver – these outcomes align with the five pillars of the Safe System.