Reaping the benefits
Many safety measures have been introduced in Switzerland after being developed and tested abroad. Some of the best-known examples in road traffic are the safety belt, the zero-tolerance alcohol limit for novice drivers, roundabouts and driving with daytime running lights.
Switzerland regularly benefits from groundwork done abroad, such as in sports with the water safety test, and in the home and leisure sectors with building standards and fall prevention exercises for senior citizens. In turn, Switzerland shares its expertise with other countries. The BFU pioneered ski binding development with annual binding adjustments and checks, to name one example.
Comparing international data
Analysis and research are essential prior to launching a new prevention measure. To this end, the BFU carefully investigates accident causes and identifies which measures can be employed to maximum effect. Being able to access the accumulated expertise of all countries is an invaluable asset – the BFU therefore gives high priority to international cooperation.
International databases and comparisons by country compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD are particularly beneficial. International research projects are equally important, notably those implemented by FERSI (see below) or the European Road Safety Council. In addition, the BFU also consults studies conducted in other countries.
Adapting to Swiss circumstances
This knowledge exchange means that the BFU can identify best practice and need not start from scratch when launching a new measure in Switzerland. But this does not mean that every prevention measure that is successful abroad can be adopted here. Each measure must always be individually adapted to the needs and culture of each country.
Award for Switzerland
For the BFU experts, international exchange is a further learning opportunity that allows them to reflect on their own work – an option which rarely presents itself in Switzerland since there is no other organisation like the BFU. International comparisons can point to a need for action. They can also provide confirmation – as in 2017, when the European Road Safety Council recognised Switzerland for its successful road safety traffic efforts in the Via sicura road safety programme.
This accolade was no coincidence. Effective accident prevention today demands a comprehensive approach. Partners at all levels – prevention experts, policymakers, infrastructure owners, manufacturers of vehicles, equipment or structures, as well as their users – are involved in the development and implementation of safety programmes. This is in keeping with the principle of shared responsibility, which derives from international prevention work and is applied in Switzerland today.
Four main BFU partners
The Forum of European Road Safety Research Institutes (FERSI) is an international community of research organisations which aims to improve road safety. Its main areas of activity are knowledge exchange, cooperation, scientific support and development and joint research projects. Many important new safety solutions in Switzerland have been initiated through the BFU’s cooperation with FERSI.
Go to FERSI
The European Travel Safety Council (ETSC) develops guidelines for the European Commission of the European Union, the European Parliament and the member states. For the BFU, the ETSC is an important source of thematic benchmarks and project ideas. One important project, PRAISE, promotes best practice in occupational road safety. In this context, the BFU drew up a comprehensive catalogue of recommendations for safer business travel addressing companies with vehicle fleets.
Go to ETSC
The International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) is an OECD-maintained collection of data on road traffic accidents in various countries in and outside Europe. IRTAD is an effective tool for road construction and traffic authorities, police forces, automobile clubs, insurance providers and other organisations which have to evaluate, assess and compare accident developments in an international context. The comparisons by country are a valuable information source for the BFU.
Go to IRTAD
The International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS) is a global, multidisciplinary organisation that advances safety issues and injury care in snow sports through education, research and development. Its members include experts from the fields of accident prevention, medicine, orthopaedics, biomechanics, engineering, epidemiology, prevention specialists and product manufacturers from all over the world. The ISSS hosts an international research symposium every two years. The BFU works closely with ISSS experts in the areas of wrist protection for snowboarders, advancing the development of ski release bindings and on issues concerning safety in snow park construction.
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