Transportation and Risk Management

Subject: Technology
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 894
Topics: Transportation, Management


In recent years, risk management has gradually evolved into a major aspect of business management within the government and private institutions. In the transportation sector alone for instance, the primary risk management objective has been related to the reduction of accidents and improvement of passenger safety. This paper shall discuss transportation and risk management, detailing its important elements and discussing how these two elements necessarily interact with each other. 

Main Body

Transportation is fraught with risks and these risks come from different directions and risk management is the best way by which transportation can be kept safe and efficient (Ritter, Barrett, & Wilson, 2007).  In cases where there are hazardous materials being transported, the goal is to prevent spills and to mitigate the consequences in case spills may occur. In the past, transportation risks are often associated with unavoidable disasters or man-made errors, but now, with the presence of terrorists, there is malicious intent in some of the transportation risks.  This was the case following the September 11, 2001 bombings where planes were used to perpetuate malicious acts (Ritter, Barrett, & Wilson, 2007).  Since then, risk management in the transportation sector has evolved with emergency responders also required to manage the impact of transportation incidents. 

It is apparent therefore that decision-makers in the transportation sector have to use new paradigms in managing risks.  The paradigms must be able to clearly consider security threats and risks; must integrate security elements in the overall standards in managing natural as well as man-made disasters.  It is also crucial to acknowledge how transportation security including traditional risk management has to cover common goals – decreasing the risk and consequences of disasters in order to protect human health and the environment (Ritter, Barrett, & Wilson, 2007).  

In general, risk management focuses on two major concerns – natural and man-made disasters.  Natural disasters include storms, tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes, floods, forest fires (Abkowitz, 2002).  The attitude in managing these risks and disasters has mostly been one of resignation – that the incidents are acts of God and there is not much one can do to prevent them from occurring (Kunreuther, 2002). As a result, risk management has been directed towards managing the impact of these disasters when they do occur. Man-made disasters present as a different issue and are often solely associated with man’s negligence or deliberate acts (Abkowitz, 2002).  There is a failure under these circumstances, on the part of responsible organizations to make the proper decisions to protect human life and the environment (Ritter, Barrett, & Wilson, 2007).  Risk management over man-made disasters has therefore been more focused and has been given more attention. 

Risk assessment, a significant part of risk management, highlights the importance of measuring the possibility of a potential even actually happening along with its related consequences (Kunreuther, 2002).  The presence of malicious intent in man-made disasters indicates the need to revise the traditional approaches to risk assessment. Measuring consequences is first considered where events are considered, often including in the assessment the worst possible scenario which can come about (Kunreuther, 2002).  In trying to expand the context, the overall far-reaching impact of the event or scenario has to be considered with possible solutions developed for such scenarios. Related scenarios have to include fatalities and injuries, cleanup, property damage, business interruption, environmental degradation, traffic disruption, public anxiety, and community disruption (Abkowitz, 2002). 

In risk management within the transportation sector, the focus has to be on prioritizing risks – identifying critical transport facilities, carrying out risk assessments, developing risk management control tools, implementing strategies, and monitoring performance (Kunreuther, 2002; Abkowitz, 2002). The infrastructure covered by the transportation sector includes highways, pipelines, railroads, waterways, air transport, fixed facilities, and vehicles (Abkowitz, 2002).  The risk assessment and management has to cover all these aspects and network of transportation.  

It is important that in managing risks in the transportation sector, there is institutional coordination.  Other agencies within the federal, state, to the local setting, have to work with each other in order to understand and manage transportation risk factors (Abkowitz, 2002).  Security risks in the transport sector can be exacerbated also where there is poor coordination between transport agencies.  In order to manage various expectations in the transport sector, the risk managers have to be able to handle different responsibilities including the tracking of major events or disasters, assessing and prioritizing risky locations, identifying at-risk populations, communicating risks to those who are likely to be affected, locating and deploying the resources needed, estimating damage, as well as identifying rehabilitation plans (Abkowitz, 2002).


Transportation and risk management has significantly evolved even as the risks have also evolved.  In general, risk management has expanded to improve the assessment process, but efforts to manage the risks have yet to improve.  It is important for all agencies involved to coordinate with each other in order to manage the risks and reduce their impact on society.  The tools of assessment as well as management have improved significantly and it is important for agencies to use and apply such innovations in order to improve risk management within the transportation setting. 

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  1. Abkowitz, M. (2002). Transportation risk paradigm: A new paradigm.  Vanderbilt University, 1-16.
  2. Kunreuther, H. (2002). Risk analysis and risk management in an uncertain world. Risk analysis22(4), 655-664.
  3. Ritter, L., Barrett, J. M., & Wilson, R. (2007). Securing Global Transportation Networks. A Total Security Management Approach.
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