Based on the fact that travel and transport represent high risks and that society is faced with major changes with respect to reducing such risks, the Ministry of Transport and Communications wanted further research to focus on transport risk, primarily in the form of an applied research programme under the auspices of Culture and Society.
The main objective of the 'Risk and safety in transport' programme is to provide the population, business, organisations and the authorities with a better understanding of transport risk, increasing knowledge regarding risk perception and evaluation and creating the best possible knowledge base for good risk-management within the transport sector.
The main academic objective is related to the intended application of the knowledge, which the programme will produce. The idea is that the value of such knowledge depends to a significant extent on how it can be applied. It is natural to assume that the interests of business, organisations and regulatory authorities are related to opportunities for more successful risk-management.
The programme has three sub-objectives which further develop the main objective. Firstly, the programme should contribute to making visions and ideals for transport safety more operational, as well as obtaining increased insight into ethical, economic, political and other types of normative foundations of transport safety policy.
Secondly, the programme is intended to improve knowledge and understanding of transport risks. This objective also includes studying risks in transport in a social perspective, by which transport risk is seen in relation to other forms of risk.
The third objective is to develop a better understanding of the implications of different ways of organising risk management, specifically how the responsibility for safety is formulated and shared.
One of the programme's most important policy instruments is direct support for projects. The majority of projects should be longer than one year in length and involve a number of co-workers. It is desirable that both established and newly qualified researchers participate in the same project, and that there is room for both post-doctoral and doctoral students and network co-operation within the projects.
The research field consists of contributions from several research traditions within social sciences, the humanities and technology. Many of the problems will be of a cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary nature. The programme should present a new, broader approach to research within transport safety and risk, where perspectives from the humanities are also included. On the basis of this, the programme committee will encourage co-operation between the established research institutions in the field and new institutions which may bring new impetus to research.
Projects may well take a critical perspective, but it is desirable that research projects examine opportunities as well as limitations, and consider developments in transport safety within an international, comparative perspective.
High scientific standards are required for the projects and it is assumed that the results will be of sufficient quality to be published in recognised scientific fora.
The main research topics have been defined: 'Visions for transport safety', Understanding transport risk and putting it into a social perspective' and 'Organising risk management'.
The programme is financed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Norwegian Directorate of Public roads, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Railways Authority, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Aviation Authority with a total budget of approximately NOK 70 million (EUR 9 million) over the years from 2002 till 2009.