An Enhanced Systemic Approach to Safety

R2: An Enhanced Systemic Approach to Safety

Research Team:

Principal Investigator
Offer Grembek
University of California, Berkeley

Libby Thomas
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Funding Organization

Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety (CSCRS)


The traditional, transportation safety management approach involves the identification of crash hotspots, in which public agencies prioritize locations eligible for safety improvements based on historical crash concentrations. This project presents an enhanced systemic approach which consists of targeting blanket improvements at sites across a road network based on specific roadway features that are associated with a particular crash type. The systemic approach uses historical crash data to identify the types of roadways that suffer from recurring safety concerns, designating it as reactive to data, but also provides a mechanism to make improvements to sites that have not experienced many—or any—crashes in a proactive manner.

Figure 2 showing continuum from fully reactive to truly proactive approaches

The systemic approach is a flexible, data-driven methodology that aims to identify recurring safety concerns by identifying the crash profiles that are associated with certain roadway features. The analysis takes the form of a transparent systemic crash matrix that shows what types of crashes occur on what types of facilities, with rows representing crash characteristics and columns corresponding to facility types. Using such a matrix provides agencies with a snapshot of systemic problems within their networks, which is both easy to assemble and to interpret, thus overcoming potential barriers to changes in road safety management due to limited institutional capacity or financial means. The framework set by the systemic approach is flexible enough to allow agencies with varying degrees of data availability to implement it—regardless of the level of performance their data management systems—and with different safety priorities.

Learn more about this project on the CSCRS website.