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Strategy

Canada’s third national road safety strategy, which has a five-year timeframe (2011-2015), is somewhat different from its two predecessors. The  strategy is similar in that it will retain the long-term vision that Canada will have the safest roads in the world.  As well, the four strategic objectives are expected to result in safer road users, safer road infrastructure and safer vehicles through:

  • raising public awareness and commitment to road safety,
  • improving communication, cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders,
  • enhancing enforcement,
  • improving road safety information in support of research and evaluation.

Road Safety Strategy (RSS) 2015 differs from Road Safety Vision (RSV) 2010 because it is considerably more flexible for jurisdictions to use. It no longer includes targets set at the national level that then become de-facto targets for each province/territory. Rather, the success of the new framework will be measured by achieving yearly downward trending in fatalities and serious injuries, as reported at the national level. In addition, progress will be determined using rate-based measures, rather than the previous practice of setting percentage-based targets and translating these into actual numbers of fatalities and serious injuries.

The Road Safety Strategy will provide jurisdictions with a framework of best practices which each jurisdiction can adopt or adapt to address its specific road safety challenges. Some of the best practices have been proven effective and for others, measured effectiveness is not yet available. With the Road Safety Strategy 2015, jurisdictions will have the responsibility for their respective plans and also have the option of developing their own quantitative targets for specific casualty reductions during the five-year timeframe, if they wish to do so.

Summary

The Road Safety Strategy’s ultimate goal is to continue to reduce fatalities and serious injuries caused by collisions on Canada’s roads.

Since 2008, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) has undertaken consultations with its government members, along with members of the engineering and police community, as well as key industry stakeholders, to develop a road safety strategy framework to succeed Road Safety Vision 2010. The Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety endorsed the Road Safety Strategy (RSS) 2015 in September 2010.

The Road Safety Strategy is similar to its predecessors in a number of ways. First, it retains the long-term vision of making Canada’s roads the safest in the world. Second, the core objectives of the Road Safety Vision 2010 plan will continue as objectives in the successor plan. These are:

  • raising public awareness and commitment to road safety,
  • improving communication, cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders,
  • enhancing enforcement,
  • improving road safety information in support of research and evaluation.

However, a number of key elements contribute to the Road Safety Strategy 2015’s uniqueness. These key elements are :

Flexibility: The strategy will be considerably more flexible than its predecessor.

The structure of the strategy is different as it provides more flexibility. The strategy outlines best practices and initiatives that jurisdictions will have the flexibility to adopt depending on their suitability, feasibility and acceptability within their respective operating environments. Each jurisdiction will develop and ‘own’ their respective road safety plans.

Holistic approach: The strategy will take a much more holistic approach to road safety.

The Road Safety Strategy is holistic in nature and provides a coordinated approach which includes initiatives to address road users, infrastructure and vehicles. This acknowledges the interdependencies that exist between drivers, roads and vehicle safety design, and will move the Road Safety Strategy 2015 to more of a “safe systems” framework. Indeed, the Road Safety Strategy represents the outcome of very strong collaboration between CCMTA and members of the Engineering Research and Support Committee (ERSC).

Targets: Hard percentage targets will not be established at the national level, progress will be measured at the national level using rate-based measures.

Unlike predecessor plans, the Road Safety Strategy will not include hard percentage based targets, but will seek to achieve directional downward trends in fatalities and serious injuries throughout its five-year duration. Downward trending will be measured using rate-based measures. Jurisdictions will continue to report fatalities and serious injuries to Transport Canada on an annual basis. A report on national progress of reducing fatalities and serious injuries will be produced using this rate-based measurement approach. While the Road Safety Strategy 2015 will not include hard quantitative targets like RSV 2010, it will not prevent individual jurisdictions, should they wish to do so, from establishing their own targets.

Best practices: Core to the strategy will be a framework of “best practice” strategies that jurisdictions may use to address key road safety areas and risk groups.

Core to the Road Safety Strategy is a framework of best practices designed to address key target groups and key contributing factors that drive fatalities and serious injuries on Canada’s roads. The framework has been developed and includes a variety of road safety initiatives that have proven to be effective in Canada and/or in other OECD countries based on a comprehensive environment scan undertaken by CCMTA. The nature of the framework is such that it will be a fluid document that will be regularly updated throughout its five-year duration as new road safety strategies are introduced in OECD countries or as existing strategies are evaluated and their effectiveness in reducing fatalities and serious injuries is established.

Ownership: While CCMTA led the development of the strategy and will manage it, each jurisdiction will “own” the strategy and will use the “best practice” framework to develop their own jurisdictional plans.

As custodian of the Road Safety Strategy, CCMTA, working through the jurisdictions and its committees and task forces, will be responsible for updating the Strategy. Given its fluid and proactive design, updates may include documenting progress made on new research projects undertaken, identifying new initiatives to be included in the multi-cell matrix of key target groups and contributing factors, revising the framework of proven best practice initiatives and reporting on its progress.

Timeframe: The strategy will have a shorter five-year timeframe.

The Road Safety Strategy has a five-year timeframe and a mid-term evaluation on its success will be conducted in year 3.

It is expected the Road Safety Strategy will inspire road safety stakeholders from all levels of government as well as key public and private sector stakeholders to work together towards the common goal of making Canada’s roads the safest in the world.

History

Since 1996, Canada has had a road safety vision of having “the safest roads in the world”. Jurisdictions, under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), along with other key stakeholders, such as police forces and road safety organizations, have been working towards this vision through the direction of road safety plans.  

Road Safety Vision 2001, Canada's inaugural national road safety vision and plan was adopted by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in 1996. Under this plan, fatalities decreased by 10% while serious injuries declined by 16% despite steady increases in the road user population.

In October 2000, Road Safety Vision 2010 was approved by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety. It retained the vision and strategic objectives and added an overall national target and sub-targets. The quantitative targets were intended to provide road safety stakeholders with broad-based benchmark data of key road safety indicators, against which intervention efforts could be measured.

The national target called for a 30% decrease in the average number of road users killed and seriously injured during the 2008-2010 period over comparable 1996-2001 baseline figures. The sub-targets' proposed reductions ranged from 20% to 40%, to address the specific areas of occupant restraints, impaired driving, commercial vehicle safety, vulnerable road users, speed and intersection safety, rural roadways, young drivers and high-risk drivers.  It was expected the achievement of these targets would further reduce Canada's road fatality total to fewer than 2,100 by 2010.

As result of a mid-term review of the plan and evidence that indicated progress had stalled, jurisdictions made a concerted effort to accelerate the reduction of fatalities and serious injuries in the areas of greatest concern: curbing the incidence of drinking and driving, excessive speeding and non-use of seat belts. Recent indications suggest that progress has improved significantly. The 2007 fatalities were 6% lower than the baseline, while serious injuries were almost 15% lower.

Canada’s Road Safety Vision 2010 has also played a pivotal role in raising the profile of traffic safety concerns among the enforcement community. In their efforts to help achieve the objective of the vision, the enforcement community, for the most part, changed its traffic services delivery model from a random patrol enforcement strategy to a team service delivery model where data analysis is combined with education and enforcement strategies to address key causal factors through targeted enforcement.

Core to the strategy is a framework of best practices, consisting of a multi-cell matrix of key target groups and key highway safety issues or contributing factors, along with a variety of road safety initiatives that jurisdictions may adopt to address their specific priorities. Jurisdictions will have the flexibility to adopt these initiatives and strategies depending on their suitability, feasibility and acceptablity.

The Vision

Canada’s road safety stakeholders’ vision is to have the “safest roads in the world”. The vision is aspirational in nature and need not necessarily be achieved within the Road Safety Strategy’s timelines.

The report Towards Zero: Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach, states “Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and International Transport Forum (ITF) countries include a wide range of economies with large differences in their road safety performance. The best-performing countries have fatality rates of around 5-7 killed per 100,000 population.”

To place the vision of having the safest roads in context, the vision would result in Canada achieving a rate of 5 fatalities per 100,000 population. In 2007, there were 2,767 fatalities, which translates to a comparable fatality rate of 8.4 per 100,000 population. For Canada to achieve a target of 5 fatalities or less per 100,000 population would have required a further reduction of 1,120 fatalities in 2007.

This national vision represents Canada’s desire to strive towards being a world leader in road safety. While this vision may not be achieved over the short term, it highlights the desire for the best possible road safety outcomes for all Canadian jurisdictions.

The Road Safety Strategy’s vision is intended to inspire road safety stakeholders from all levels of government and key public and private sector stakeholders to work together towards the common objective of making road travel in Canada safer. The vision can best be achieved through the implementation of initiatives that are consistent with its four strategic objectives.

Nationally, the Strategy serves as an impetus to CCMTA’s standing committees, task forces and working groups to collaborate in the development and implementation of numerous initiatives and focused interventions aimed at improving Canada’s level of road safety.

Principles

The development of the Road Safety Strategy 2015 is based on key guiding principles, including: year-over-year downward trends in fatalities and serious injuries, safer systems concepts, a five-year timeframe, a continuation of collision reporting by province/territory, and a framework of best practices.

Downward Trends

The Road Safety Strategy seeks to achieve directional downward trends in the rate-based number of fatalities and serious injuries - successes against which will be measured at the national level on a yearly basis, rather than the actual fatalities and serious injuries as with RSV 2010. Trending will be measured using rolling averages to smooth out short-term fluctuations, since year-over-year reductions may not be practical or attainable. Two rate-based indicators are commonly used internationally: fatalities (or serious injuries) per million population; and fatalities (or serious injuries) per billion kilometres travelled.

Although the national strategy does not include hard quantitative targets, this will not preclude individual jurisdictions from establishing such targets when there is government, law enforcement and/or road safety stakeholder support for doing do.

Safer Systems Concept

The Road Safety Strategy is holistic in nature and provides a coordinated “safer systems” approach that includes strategies to target road users, vehicles and infrastructure. This “safer systems concept” is an effective means to bring all stakeholders together by recognizing the interdependencies that exist between these elements. It incorporates “safer systems concepts” rather than a “safe systems approach”, which traditionally involves very significant long-term investments over a protracted period of time.

Five-Year Timeframe

The term for the Road Safety Strategy is five years rather than ten years and could be renewed or extended. A shorter timeframe will help build and maintain momentum for jurisdictional initiatives throughout the life of the Road Safety Strategy.

Statistical Reporting

Jurisdictions will continue to report fatalities and serious injuries to Transport Canada on an annual basis and these data will be used to produce a report on national progress in reducing fatalities and serious injuries using rate-based indicators.

Best Practices

Core to the Road Safety Strategy is a framework of best practices. The framework  consists of a multi-cell matrix of key target groups and contributing factors, along with a variety of road safety initiatives that jurisdictions may adopt to address their specific priorities. Jurisdictions will have the flexibility to adopt specific strategies depending on their suitability, feasibility (i.e.: resources) and acceptability (i.e.: operating environment).

The framework of best practices is intended to be fluid, meaning that new target groups, contributing factors and suggested initiatives and strategies can be added to the Road Safety Strategy over time, depending on the needs identified by jurisdictional members and research of best practices in other OECD member countries.