Sustainable public safety and the case of two epidemics: Covid-19 and traffic crashes. Can we extrapolate from one to the other?

Tsippy Lotan, David Shinar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


COVID-19 and motor vehicle crashes (MVC) are both considered epidemics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), yet their progression, treatment and success in treatment have been very different. In this paper, we propose that the well-established sustainable safety approach to road safety can be applied to the management of COVID-19. We compare COVID-19 and MVC in terms of several defining characteristics, including evolvement and history, definitions and measures of evaluation, main attributes and characteristics, countermeasures, management and coping strategies, and key success factors. Despite stark differences, there are also some similarities between the two epidemics, and these enable insights into how the principles of sustainable road safety can be utilized to cope with and guide the treatment of COVID-19. Major guidelines that can be adopted include an aggressive policy set at the highest national level. The policy should be data-and science-based and would be most effective when relying on a systems approach (such as Sweden’s Vision Zero, the Netherlands’ Sustainable Safety, and the recommended EU Safe System). The policy should be enforceable and supplemented with positive public information and education campaigns (rather than scare tactics). Progression of mortality and morbidity should be tracked continuously to enable adjustments. Ethical issues (such as invasion of privacy) should be addressed to maximize public acceptance. Interestingly, the well-established domain of MVC can also benefit from the knowledge, experience, and strategies used in addressing COVID-19 by raising the urgency of detection and recognition of new risk factors (e.g., cell phone distractions), developing and implementing appropriate policy and countermeasures, and emphasizing the saliency of the impact of MVC on our daily lives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3136
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2021


  • Best practices
  • COVID-19
  • Epidemic eradication
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Policy
  • Sustainable safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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