Funding and mechanisms

Levels of public sector road safety investment in different countries are not readily identifiable, because many safety related expenditures are embedded in broader categories of expenditure across the transport, health, justice and education sectors.

  • General tax revenues: Many best practice countries fund large components of their road safety programmes from general tax revenues, as part of the national budgeting processes. Often the specific road safety components are embedded within larger engineering, enforcement and education programmes and are difficult to identify as individual budget items. This approach to road safety funding is relatively simple to administer, but it lacks transparency in terms of determining equitable cost sharing across road user groups and in monitoring the financial performance of investments.
  • Road funds: Revenue sources for road funds typically come from fuel taxes, vehicle registration and licensing fees, and road user charges for heavy vehicles. There are few examples of road funds being used to finance road safety investments. In some countries like South Africa a small proportion of road fund income is dedicated to road safety activities, whereas in the New Zealand Road Safety to 2010 strategy, the road fund finances the national road safety enforcement programme, national road safety education, national publicity and awareness campaigns, national strategy management and coordination processes, national and local low-cost safety engineering measures, and general road network investments that contribute to improved road safety outcomes.
  • User fees: Many entry and exit services concerning measures such as driver licensing, vehicle inspection and operator licensing are directly funded from road user fees, paid either to the government agencies responsible or private sector agencies working on their behalf. These fees borne by users represent a substantial proportion of a country’s total road safety investment.
  • Insurance levies: Some countries levy a fee on vehicle insurance premiums to help fund road safety programmes, but the amount of funding raised is generally small and is often used to fund education and publicity initiatives to improve road user awareness of road safety risks. Finland provides the best-known example of this approach.
  • Earmarked taxes: As well as various taxes and user charges being channelled to road funds for a variety of purposes, some taxes can be earmarked (or hypothecated) for a specific purpose. For example, revenue from traffic fines is used to finance road safety activities in some countries. The most recent example of this is the United Kingdom, where fines revenue from speed cameras is earmarked to provide additional speed cameras at hazardous locations [1].

Delivery partnerships

Much progress has been made in establishing different types of partnerships within tiers of Government and between private and public sector [47].


Political leadership and professional management: Achieving an achievable but challenging target requires a sound relationship to be established between targets and measures and the ownership and commitment of all the affected stakeholders. A strong alliance between political leadership and professional management is crucial. The STAR Advisory Panel which informed the UK target-setting process provides one such example [3].

Central and local government: Establishing strong links between central and local government activity through targets, plans, contracts and funding mechanisms is key to achieving good performance. In the Netherlands, within the context of the Start-Up programme for the Dutch Sustainable Safety Programme, central and local government agreed highly successful contractual targets between 1997-2002 and with a specific budget to re-classify the road network according to function and thereafter to implement 50km/h zones in residential access roads.

Inter-governmental and multi-sectoral delivery: Sweden’s arrangements provide a good example of the sort of institutional interaction needed to achieve powerful co-operation between the lead Department and other stakeholders. The Group for National Road Safety Co-operation is the central body that co-ordinates inter-governmental cooperation between the Swedish National Roads Administration, local authorities and the police as well as the National Society for Road Safety which brings together representatives from government agencies, non governmental organizations and companies affected by road safety issues. The aim is to inspire and encourage traffic stakeholders. It comprises a variety of actors who have made far-reaching promises to improve road safety. Regional and local coalitions have also been set up [36].

Police and roads authorities Several countries have set up highly effective partnerships between the police and local authorities in the identification of high risk crash sites (New Zealand) and the co-ordination of high profile advertising and high visibility traffic policing (e.g. Finland and the Australian States).

Public and private sectors one of the most effective partnerships for the delivery of road safety throughout Europe in recent years is the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) partnership which brings together EU and national governments and motoring and consumer organizations to provide impartial information on the performance of new cars in state of the art vehicle occupant protection and pedestrian protection crash tests.


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