Active travel

Fewer crashes

Happy communities

More than 1.3 million people die on roads every year and millions more are seriously injured. Worldwide, road traffic injuries are the biggest killer of young people aged 5-29. Existing road networks are unsafe for people who walk, cycle, ride a motorbike or drive for work.

We know the solutions to protect against the millions of deaths and serious injuries that occur on roads every year. We must build more safe spaces for people who walk and cycle, and ensure that vehicles on our roads don’t pollute our air. We need safety technology in vehicles and safe speed limits on our roads too. This is known as the ‘safe systems’ approach to road safety.

Safe roads are a fundamental part of the safe systems approach to road safety and are vital to prevent death and serious injury from road crashes and pollution.

What does good road design look like?

  1. Safe roads put people first so that everyone can make safe and healthy journeys.
  2. Safe roads help prevent crashes and reduce the risk of death or serious injury if a crash does occur.
  3. In places where people live, safe roads have footpaths, cycle paths, safe crossing places and slow traffic.
  4. Safe roads between places are well maintained, with clear and consistent marking and signs. Vehicles travel at safe speeds and there are physical barriers to separate vehicles travelling in opposite directions.
  5. Intelligent infrastructure connects with vehicles to enable safety.
  6. Accessible charging points encourage use of electric vehicles.

Safe roads put the needs of people before traffic

Safe roads put people first so that everyone can make safe and healthy journeys in the places where they live and when they travel between places.

This means that in cities, towns and villages, people can walk and cycle safely, away from traffic, on well-lit, obstacle-free, segregated footpaths and cycle paths. There are safe places to cross, and roads are designed to give priority to people walking and cycling at junctions.

Roads between places are built for safety too, with safe speed limits, clear road marking and consistent signing and street lighting. Road surfaces are well maintained and roadside obstacles are removed. Safety barriers separate vehicles travelling in opposite directions.

Roads designed for people

Roads designed for people enable us to get where we need to go, directly from homes and public transport hubs, walking or cycling at the speed we want to go at.

We can stop, rest and meet each other in vehicle-free spaces, with pleasant, shaded, sheltered seating, places for children to play, and access to water and toilets.

It is normal to walk and cycle for our short journeys, and many of us choose to walk and cycle longer journeys too, across our towns and cities.

Intelligent road infrastructure

Wireless communication enables road infrastructure to connect and communicate with vehicles through vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology to enable safety, including helping vehicles slow down in poor weather conditions.

Road infrastructure gives priority to people walking and cycling at junctions and crossings.

Roads that cannot be fitted with safety features and V2I technology (because they are too narrow, or for other reasons) should have much lower speed limits.

There are accessible charging points to encourage use of ultra-low emission (electric) vehicles.

Our road infrastructure – including walking and cycling paths – needs to be well maintained and audited to meet internationally recognised, best practice standards based on the needs of people.

Star ratings are a simple way to measure the level of safety on different types of road.

Five-star roads are the safest and one-star roads are the least safe. Road safety experts estimate that achieving more than 75% of travel on 3-star or better roads by 2030 could save 467,000 lives every year.

5-star roads have footpaths, segregated cycle paths and safe crossing places for people who walk and cycle. They have street lighting and safe speeds. Safety barriers separate vehicles travelling in opposite directions and protect against roadside hazards. There is a separate lane for motorbikes.

Find out more at irap.org

This short animated film, suitable for all ages, explains how the design of cities and towns, roads, public transport systems and vehicles can deliver safe and healthy mobility for all.