The concept of “acceptable risk” applied to road safety risk level

Claes Tingvall, Anders Lie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOtherpeer-review


The concept of acceptable risk (AR) is used in many risk environments in the community. The application of AR can be made, in most cases, either as accepting what citizens or those exposed to risk seem to accept as current or future level, or as a predefined risk level.

AR, as a predefined level exists in medicine, aviation, rail, workplace, etc., and seems to be used when humans are exposed to risks in a passive mode, or as potential victims.

It is claimed that in road traffic, we traditionally see the user of road transport as an active part, accepting the current risk. Instead, we should in most cases see us as passive victims to the safety solutions we are exposed to. If we use a predefined level of AR, which is used in other environments, we would aim for a dramatically improved level, 100–1000 times lower risk than today's level.

The implication of using a predefined risk level would have major consequences on the options for safety solutions, as well as on ethics of the current economic planning of road infrastructure investments and other aspects of professional responsibility for the risks we expose citizens to. It would also turn safety from being an economic factor in benefit-cost models to a being boundary condition of the road transport system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Transportation
EditorsRoger Vickerman
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780081026724
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 2030 Agenda
  • Acceptable risk
  • Ethics
  • Paternalism
  • Predefined acceptable risk
  • Predefined risk level
  • Revealed acceptable risk
  • Road traffic crashes
  • Socio-economic models
  • Vienna convention

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