When policy hits the road: Safe System in Victoria's policy environment

Michael Green, Carlyn Muir, Jennifer Oxley, Amir Sobhani

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The Safe System approach has globally become the dominant means to address road trauma, with bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, European Union, World Bank, World Health Organization, National and State Australian Governments and the United Nations encouraging its uptake. However, whilst there has been significant growth in its application, limited attention has been paid to the extent to which Safe System is integrated into public policy. Anecdotally, as an early adopter of the Safe System approach, Victoria's experience acts an instructive case for other jurisdictions applying the concept to policy. Using an interpretive qualitative case study approach, this study explored whether a) Safe System has influenced Victoria's road safety policy development to date, and b) if the extent to which Safe System has been integrated into public policy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Victoria's strategic, government-based, road safety decision-makers. Interviews were structured around the World Health Organization's Policy Development Process framework. The results indicate that Safe System has an implicit role in Victoria's road safety policy. When viewed through the lens of a policy integration framework, the analysis found only partial integration of the Safe System concept within road safety policy in Victoria, with limited flow-on effects of the framework on the policy frame, subsystems, goals and instruments. Governance frameworks, management structures and policy objectives are all influenced by Safe System, with the road safety problem having clearly been established as a cross-cutting issue. However, additional refinement of policy instruments to articulate the role of Safe System as well actively employing the approach in the policy development process is required. These findings confirm that while Victoria's use of Safe System is noteworthy, it may be beneficial for the framework to feature more prominently in policy for it to have the intended effect on road safety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107129
Number of pages13
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Policy integration
  • Public policy
  • Road safety
  • Safe System
  • Victoria

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