Safe System

Safe System approach

We’ve adopted a Safe System approach to achieve the ultimate goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads.

This approach is underpinned by these principles:

  • People sometimes make mistakes – a simple mistake shouldn’t cost anyone their life.
  • Roads, roadsides and vehicles need to be designed to minimise crashes or reduce forces if a crash happens.
  • Road safety is a shared responsibility – everyone needs to make safe decisions on and around the road to prioritise safety.

Safe roads, speeds, people and cars should work together to keep us safe while using our road system.

Safe roads

Safe roads are designed and built to be more forgiving and account for human error. If a driver or rider makes a mistake, safer road design can significantly reduce the chance that it will result in a death or serious injury.

To do this, we: 

  • upgrade roads and improve road design
  • install new road signs, surfaces, markings and key safety treatments
  • remove roadside hazards
  • assess long stretches of major roads to identify road improvements
  • review and update road safety standards
  • investigate new and innovative road safety engineering treatments
  • provide geo-spatial road safety planning tools.

Towards Zero Safer Roads Program

The NSW Government is investing to deliver safer urban and rural roads to reduce road trauma and fatalities throughout the NSW road network. From 2022 to 2030, the Towards Zero Safer Roads Program will not only save lives and reduce crashes, but also improve network efficiency while increasing the liveability of all areas.  

The key objectives of the program are to: 

  • help reduce fatalities to less than 164 per year (-50%), and serious injuries to less than 7796 per year (-30%) by 2030 
  • provide greater protection for all road users, including vulnerable users, through road safety upgrades.

You can find details of road improvement projects across NSW with our online map.

 

Learn more about how we're delivering safer roads across NSW under the 2026 Road Safety Plan.

 

Liveable and Safe Urban Communities initiative

The Liveable and Safe Urban Communities initiative aims to improve the safety of people in urban areas through infrastructure safety upgrades for pedestrians and bicycle riders, and by specifically addressing serious injury crashes in urban areas. Key treatments include: 

  • 30 and 40km/h zones in high pedestrian activity areas 
  • raised pedestrian (wombat) crossings 
  • pedestrian refuges 
  • roundabouts 
  • pedestrian protection at signalised intersections 
  • raised safety platforms at signalised intersections.

Saving Lives on Country Roads initiative

The Saving Lives on Country Roads initiative aims to address two key contributors to road fatalities and serious injuries on country roads: high risk curves and fatigue. Key treatments include: 

  • rumble strips (audio tactile line marking) 
  • wide centreline combined with rumble strips  
  • flexible safety barriers 
  • motorcycle underruns 
  • sealed shoulder widening at curves and on straights 
  • curve alignment markers 
  • curve advisory signs 
  • vehicle activated signs.

Safety around roadwork sites

Transport for NSW partners with Deakin University to explore traffic control measures at end of queue roadwork sites and technology options to improve worker safety on high-speed, high-volume roads. Find out more about these research projects at:

Safe speeds

A small increase in speed can make a big difference to the severity of a crash. Driving too fast is the single biggest contributor to death and injury on our roads. That’s why setting safe speed limits, and ensuring drivers comply, is critical. 

Speeding is never safe. Speed increases the risk of having a crash, as well as the severity of the crash.  

There's nothing casual about the impacts of casual speeding.

The faster you're going the more: 

  • time you need to react and avoid a crash 
  • stopping distance you need 
  • severe the impact 
  • chance of death or serious injury. 

 

The facts

Speeding includes travelling above the speed limit as well as driving too fast for certain conditions.

Speeding is a contributing factor in around 40% of fatal crashes each year in NSW.

The higher the speed, the greater the impact. A small increase in speed can make a big difference to the severity of a crash. On an urban road, driving only 5km/h above the 60km/h speed limit doubles the risk of a casualty crash.

'Just a bit over' can be the difference between being able to stop in time or not at all.

Safe people

People are at the heart of the Safe System approach to road safety. 

All road users owe it to themselves and everyone else on the road to follow the road rules and drive/ride to the conditions. We can prevent crashes and save lives when we make safe choices. 

Your decision to speed, drive/ride under the influence or even fail to wear a seatbelt can impact the safety of yourself, your loved ones and others on the road.  

No matter how skilled or experienced you are, it’s hard to know what’s around the corner or to predict when another road user will make a mistake.  

Our goal is to motivate all road users to follow the rules and make safety a priority on and around the road.

Safe vehicles

Safe vehicle choices can greatly affect your ability to survive a crash.  

A ‘mistake’ on the road can be fatal, so making a safer choice when buying or riding in a vehicle could mean the difference between life and death. 

Safety features  

When it comes to safety, not all cars are equal. Important safety features to look out for in both new and used cars include: 

  • electronic stability control (ESC)
  • forward collision warning
  • lane departure warning/lane keep assist
  • side curtain airbags
  • autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • blind spot monitoring. 

Choose safest vehicles 

How safe is your car?

Helps you find the safest car in your price range. It includes information on both ANCAP and Used Car Safety Ratings many vehicles. Many drivers don’t realise the difference a 5-star rated car can make in saving a life.

We encourage all road users to choose the safest vehicle within their price range.   

Used Car Safety Ratings 

The Used Car Safety Ratings brochure (PDF, 1.45 MB) helps identify safer models among second-hand vehicles.  

The more stars, the better the vehicle will protect you.  

You're 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured while driving the worst-rated vehicle than driving the safest one.  

The brochure also highlights 'Safer Picks'. These are vehicles that have achieved the maximum five-star occupant safety rating and are also fitted with key crash-avoidance technologies.

A 'Safer Pick' vehicle provides excellent driver protection and causes less serious injury to other road users in a crash.  

ANCAP Safety Ratings 

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) provides independent vehicle safety ratings on new light vehicle models. 

ANCAP also gives information on the level of protection provided by different vehicle models in most crashes, as well as their ability to avoid a crash through key safety technologies. 

The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in ANCAP tests.  

A 5-star vehicle must meet the highest standards in all tests and have advanced safety technologies. 

Brake assessment for modified vehicles

When a vehicle’s braking system is modified in a way that may affect its safety, it must be assessed by a certifier. If you have a significantly modified vehicle or a non-standard vehicle, it must be inspected by a NSW Government accredited representative.

The Transport for NSW website has details about the Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme, where licensed certifiers assess vehicles and modifications.

The Transport for NSW website also has detailed information on brake assessment procedures in the Brake Assessment Manual.

The Brake Modifications video shows the key steps of each assessment method in the Brake Assessment Manual, which details the different methods and regulations for assessing vehicle braking system modifications.

The Dynamic Road Tests video shows practical demonstrations of the tests specified in the Brake Assessment Manual. The video should be viewed in conjunction with the manual, which provides details of how to conduct the tests and use the results.

Bull bars

Bull bars used in NSW must comply with the Technical Specification: Requirements for vehicle frontal protection systems fitted to light vehicles (PDF, 2.11 MB).

Reference to this specification is included in Schedule Two of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2017, creating a clear and ongoing regulatory framework for the safe use of bull bars in NSW. The specification provides clear and consistent guidance to motorists and industry stakeholders to help ensure that any bull bar that they purchase, sell, install or manufacture for sale is permitted under NSW regulations.

Find out more in Is your bull bar legal? (PDF, 885.63 KB)