Safe Systems Summit convenes hundreds to pave new path to safer roadways

In April 2019, CSCRS and the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program hosted the Safe Systems Summit: Redefining Transportation Safety, a two-day conference held in Durham, NC, devoted to exploring the changing nature of traffic safety challenges. More than 340 participants gathered together to share and develop a stronger understanding of principles of the Safe Systems and systems science that can help frame efforts to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.

Students from universities all over the U.S. presented research posters.

Attendees from across the United States included transportation, public health and city and government professionals and advocates, as well as students. Representatives came from 29 states, and student attendees came from 33 universities and colleges.

Mark Ezzell, Director of GHSP, said, “The concept of Safe Systems is not new, but it has not often been used in transportation safety discussions. This summit was a unique opportunity for a cross disciplinary group of academics, engineers and health professionals to gather to learn more about how safe systems can advance traffic safety. The next phase is to move these discussions from academic meetings to everyday practice.”

Key highlights

Keynote speaker Rod McClure addressed the need for systems thinking within a roadway safety context.

The Summit featured 17 sessions, two keynote addresses, a student poster showcase and contest, networking events, a walking tour of historic downtown Durham, and the Duke University Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) mobile command center van. Highlights by the numbers:

  • Attendees from 29 different states
  • Students from 33 universities and colleges
  • A diverse faculty of 51 speakers representing federal, state and local governments and agencies; universities; private industry; and other institutions invested in safety
  • 43 research posters by students and other researchers
  • 11 sponsors including safety and public health organizations and private companies

Feedback from evaluation surveys has been positive – examples:

  • “It was a great beginning of the conversation, and look forward to continuing to learn more in the future.”
  • “The Summit had great content, filling a gap in knowledge in NC and reaching into areas that need to be highlighted in our efforts. The speaker diversity and selection was also great – it was refreshing to hear presentations that were skeptical/realistic about automation, etc.”

Continue the learning and dialogue

CSCRS has posted Summit presentations, including key session recordings. In Fall 2019, CSCRS will also release the proceedings of the Summit. 

Also, CSCRS is offering Systems at Work Collaboration Grants. An extension of CSCRS’s existing funding mechanism, this funding opportunity would be an official partnership between a CSCRS researcher(s) and a community/ community practitioner(s) to create more livable cities, as well as to help communities implement Safe Systems and/or systems science approaches. This could also potentially involve industry/ corporate partners or non-profits, but must include a community entity (i.e., state or local agency). Please visit for more information about CSCRS Systems at Work Collaboration Grants.

In addition, stay tuned to for additional learning, networking and collaboration opportunities.