The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has developed a comprehensive system of road safety management by objectives. A broad set of objectives regarding road user behaviour, vehicle safety standards and the safety of roads has been formulated as part of the National Transport Plan for the term 2010--2019. These objectives have been derived from an overall objective of reducing the number of killed or seriously injured road users by 50% before the year 2020. This paper describes the system and provides a critical analysis of it. Factors that influence the effectiveness of management by objectives are identified. It is concluded that while the system of management by objectives developed in Norway has a number of attractive characteristics it also has a number of weak points that may limit its effectiveness. It is therefore by no means certain that the objective of reducing fatalities and serious injuries by 50% will be realised.