Research Papers

Transforming Traffic Safety Culture Towards Achieving Zero Fatalities

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Policy and Practice, Session 4A
Author/Auteur Raheem Dilgir
Stream/Volet Policy and Practice

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

4A - Dilgir - Transforming Traffic Safety Culture Towards Zero Fatalities



As much as 95 of crashes are attributed to actions taken by road users. The topic of traffic safety culture has been discussed informally for several years, but mostly in the context of blaming road users for crashes. Recently, discussions have turned to how our transportation systems and leaders can help build a more positive culture, in which traffic safety is valued and more rigorously pursued. Such a transformation in thinking is critical towards achieving zero fatalities in the transportation system.


Formal discussions have now begun at the Transportation Research Board on safety culture. The author is an active member of the Transportation Research Board’s new sub-committee on Roadway Safety Culture. This presentation will present the committee’s mandate and initial activities, including the discussions and outcomes of the first-ever Summit on Traffic Safety Culture held in Washington DC in August 2012, attended by the author. The main outcomes of the summit are a list of research needs for each of the four major sub-areas of traffic safety culture:

  • Public safety culture;
  • Organizational safety culture;
  • Leadership safety culture; and
  • Professional safety culture.


The paper/presentation will present and discuss the attempts made in North America to date to assess traffic safety culture in these four areas. It will recap our current understanding through surveys that have been conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, the Canadian Automobile Association and U.S agencies. It will present the gaps in our understanding and the challenges that lie ahead. Some of the specific topics that will be included are:

  • The current definition of traffic safety culture
  • Where road safety is currently situated among other government priorities
  • How the system currently conspires against positive safety culture
  • How social norms inform our behaviours
  • The disconnect between our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours
  • How improved engineering practices can create a more positive culture
  • Examples of positive reinforcement for good behaviour
  • The changing relationship between the government and the public
  • Elements of a framework for transforming traffic safety culture

Objectives and Target Audience

Finally, the paper/presentation will present a set of surveys that have been developed by the author in the attempt towards starting to understand and address the issues related to traffic safety culture. Some of these surveys were developed as part of the development of a Safe Mobility Plan for the City of Surrey in Metro Vancouver, and may be useful for other road agencies and other public institutions.

Raheem Dilgir