Canada was one of the first countries in the world to adopt a national road safety strategy and to date, three national strategies have been implemented. Road Safety Vision (RSV) 2001 was Canada’s inaugural national road safety strategy. It was adopted by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in 1996. The progress made during RSV 2001 can be measured by the 10% decrease in fatalities and 16% decline in serious injuries despite steady increases in the road user population2.
In 2001, the second strategy, Road Safety Vision (RSV) 2010 was approved by the Council of Ministers. The vision and strategic objectives of this second road safety strategy were based on RSV 2001 and a decision was made to include an overall national target and sub-targets. The quantitative targets were intended to provide road safety stakeholders with key road safety indicators, against which the impact of intervention efforts could be measured.
The national target called for a 30% decrease in the average number of road users killed and seriously injured during the 2008-2010 period compared to 1996-2001 baseline figures. The proposed reductions in sub-targets ranged from 20% to 40% and addressed the specific areas of occupant protection, impaired driving, commercial vehicle safety, vulnerable road users, speed and intersection safety, rural roadways, young drivers and high-risk drivers. It was expected that the achievement of these sub-targets would further reduce Canada’s road fatality total to fewer than 2,100 by 2010. Although the 30% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries was not achieved by 2010, it was achieved soon after in 20113.
Road Safety Strategy (RSS) 2015 was launched in 2011 as Canada’s third national strategy and built upon the previous road safety vision and strategic objectives. RSS 2015 approached road safety in a different way introducing the safer systems concept as a holistic way to tackle road user, vehicle and road infrastructure issues and moved away from having established numerical targets
A significant shift in this strategy was the introduction of a framework of best practices, consisting of a matrix of key risk groups and contributing factors, along with an inventory of road safety initiatives that jurisdictions could adopt to address their specific jurisdictional priorities.
In 2013, the number of fatalities and serious injuries on Canada’s roads both decreased by 21% when compared to the 2006-2010 baseline period. When vehicle kilometres travelled are factored in, the reduction in fatality and serious injury rates are similar. According to the United Nations’ World Health Organization, “the best-performing countries have road fatality rates of around 5-7 killed per 100,000 population” 4. In 2012, Canada had a rate of 6.0 fatalities per 100,000 population5. In 2012, Canada’s ranking among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries was 13th based on fatalities per billion vehicle kilometres traveled6.