The Safe System approach was pioneered in the 1990s, throughprograms such as Vision Zero in Sweden and Sustainable Safety in theNetherlands. More recently, cities in middle-income countries, including Bogotaand Mexico City, have begun to redirect their road safety strategies toward asystem-based approach (CDMX 2017). Not only does the approach bring down fatalityrates but can also help address climate change and poor air quality throughreduced carbon dioxide emissions from transport, as it tends to focus on thesafety and promotion of public transport, walking and bicycling. Following its successful implementation across regions and scales,the Safe System approach has gained global attention. The United Nations (UN)Global Plan for Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 (WHO 2011b) embracesa comprehensive, system-based approach to traffic safety. Galvanizing effortssuch as the Decade of Action; ministerial-level meetings; declarations such asthe ones made in Moscow in 2009 and Brasilia in 2015; and inclusion of roadsafety in the SDGs, the New Urban Agenda, and the four pillars of sustainablemobility have generated momentum.

The SustainableDevelopment Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universalcall to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all peopleenjoy peace and prosperity. These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals,while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality,innovation, sustainable consumption, peaceand justice, among other priorities. Among these areas, a specificstand-alone target was included in the Health Goal to reduce road trafficfatalities by 50% by 2020 and to provide access to safe, affordable, accessibleand sustainable transport systems for all by 2030.

This marked a momentous occasion atthe UN Development summit for road safety advocates, because, for the firsttime in SDGs history, road safety was included under not just one but two ofthe 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted.Under these nonbinding goals and policy statements, many countrieshave made commitments to halve road deaths by 2020. Without a dramatic changein approach that creates a safe mobility system, this goal may not be reached evenby 2030 in most places.