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    Saving lives. ISO 39001 will make roads safer

     13.03.2013    11199 Views    

    Road accidents account for some 1.3 million fatalities each year. The number of people killed is on the increase, particularly in low and middle-income countries. Use of ISO 39001:2012, Road traffic safety (RTS) management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, can help reduce death and serious injury due to road accidents.

     In many countries, road crashes are the biggest culprits when it comes to deaths and serious injuries. ISO 39001 was published in October 2012 partly to support the United Nations’ (UN) Decade of Action for Road Safety. Covering the period 2011 to 2020, the UN initiative aims to halt the global rise in road traffic casualties.

     Almost all organizations use roads for delivery of goods and services. ISO 39001 outlines a management system to enable these organizations to integrate safety into their use of roads. The standard will help them improve safety in a structured and simple way.

    Significant benefits

     ISO 39001 will assist governmental and private sector organizations alike by providing a structured, holistic approach to road traffic safety as a complement to existing programmes and regulations. It is based on the process approach, proven by successful ISO standards such as ISO 9001:2008 for quality management, including the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, and a requirement for continual improvement.

     This makes it highly accessible to organizations that already implement other ISO management systems. We, therefore, expect ISO 39001 to be particularly popular, saving many lives. In fact, the standard can have a significant positive effect, due to the large amount of traffic generated by organizations and to the many vehicles they own or rent. This, in turn, could benefit the rest of the road transport system. If all taxis, buses, trucks, rental cars and company cars operate at the highest safety standard, there would be fewer fatalities and injuries. Similarly, if road administrations, the police, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and others adopt ISO 39001, our roads would be safer.

     In the past, attempts to improve road safety have focused on the behaviour of individual road users, and particularly on education, enforcement and engineering. These, however, proved largely ineffective, and sometimes even counterproductive.

     Compliance with speed limits, avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and using personal safety equipment such as helmets and seat belts, offer plenty of potential for society and individuals. But an organizational approach can take this even further. With ISO 39001 it is possible to :

    • Improve the well-being of employees and transport contractors

    • Facilitate the use of new technology to improve behaviour and limit the consequences of human failure

    • Enable organizations to become more effective and reduce their costs

    • Help organizations to be seen as good corporate citizens


    Notable differences

     ISO 39001 has a few elements that are unique within the family of management system standards. Firstly, the long-term target is already set and only organizations wishing to eliminate accident-related deaths and serious injuries should use the standard. While elimination is quite normal in production processes, it has been a far less common approach in road traffic.

     Another key difference from other management system standards is that some factors are mandatory. Organizations must meet vehicle safety, use of restraint systems and speed compliance. ISO 39001 also places greater emphasis on the external context. As road transport and safety can be understood as a system, many organizations would have to cooperate with, or consider, other stakeholders in the system. This is even more relevant if the organization is a car manufacturer or a road administration.

     Overall, ISO 39001 has great potential to tackle one of the most dangerous challenges of our times, road traffic safety. Now, it is up to organizations around the world to start using it and save lives.



    Source: ISO Focus+, no. 1, January 2013