U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Safety culture can be defined as the shared values, actions, and behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands.
Consensus among safety experts is that a safety culture exists in different forms in the transportation industry. Two forms that resonate the most with transportation organizations are an organizational safety culture and a public safety culture.
Organizational Safety Culture
The extent to which safety is valued and pursued by an organization indicates the strength of that organization's safety culture. The organization proactively elevates road safety as a priority for its employees. If the organization is in the transportation industry, it embraces safety and makes a commitment to integrate safety in all aspects of transportation programs and projects. Employees have safety in mind when planning, scoping, designing, and constructing a road. Employees regularly communicate the importance of road safety with colleagues, customers, and contractors. Executive leaders are vocal supporters of safety and empower employees to seek innovative approaches to improving safety even if safety is not explicitly part of everyone's job title.
Public Safety Culture
States or communities with a safety culture have citizens who understand the risks associated with transportation and choose to make safe choices when using the transportation system. Drivers in a community with a strong safety culture are likely to wear their seat belts and safety gear voluntarily, obey traffic laws, limit distractions, and refrain from operating a vehicle when impaired.