The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-24 [Active]

Multi-Solving Safety Approach - Stepping Away from Silos to Achieve a Safer System

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting
Research Agency: Iowa State University
Principal Investigator: John Shaw
Effective Date: 10/5/2023
Completion Date: 10/5/2026
Comments: Research underway


The safe system approach (SSA) incorporates various stakeholders to coordinate, engage, and implement solutions that address safer roads, safer road users, and community goals in tandem. The SSA requires stakeholders to think differently, with emphasis on system solutions made by multiple disciplines working together. To implement this way of thinking, stakeholder engagement requires evolution. Committee structures, conversations, and outcomes can be re-framed to better achieve multidisciplinary solutions for the system. In addition, recent dialogue related to SSA implementation has created a divide on the value of improving the built environment versus changes to human behavior. These two are not mutually exclusive and stakeholder engagement can be structured to move away from this way of thinking if advanced by a “multi-solving” approach.

Multi-solving is a well-known phrase in the climate and health sectors. It is a way of solving multiple problems with a single investment of time and money by bringing together stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines to address issues in a cost-efficient manner. Multi-solving research has focused on developing and framing interventions that can simultaneously address climate change and public health goals or exploit leverage points to change complex systems by influencing outcomes that matter to key players in the system. However, by applying multi-solving within transportation safety, engagement can be framed to identify integrated behavioral and engineering solutions at a system level that solves multiple problems and benefits various road users, areas, and stakeholders.


The objective of this research is to help redefine stakeholder engagement during the development of safety plans, interventions, programs, projects, and policies so outcomes focus on multi-solving decision-making and implementation. The desired outcomes are to develop a guide to promote and facilitate diverse, cross-sectoral groups to collaborate on multi-solving decision-making and implementation. 

STATUS: Research underway.


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