Data Systems

In order to plan effective safety policy and treatments, there is a requirement for reliable and accurate data on crashes.

This information can be used to

  • raise awareness about the magnitude of road traffic injuries, and to convince policymakers of the need for action
  • correctly identify problems, risk factors and priority areas that are contributing to crashes
  • formulate strategy, plan appropriate actions and set targets for improving safety
  • monitor safety performance over time.

    Data relevant to road safety are collected from a number of different sources including police reports and hospital admissions. This data can then be coded and entered on to a computerized database system.

    Summary information on deaths and injuries (and in some instances, non-injury crashes) can be used to determine the scale of the safety problem in an area, country or region. However, more detailed information is required in order to determine the causes of crashes, and from this, the types of solutions that might be applied to address these problems. A variety of information is typically collected in the event of a crash. This might include location details, severity, driver factors (such as age of driver and passengers), vehicle factors, road environment factors (e.g. whether the crash occurred at an intersection, the types of road features present, weather conditions etc.) and contributory factors to the crash (e.g. speed, alcohol).

    Examination of this detailed information can help identify key factors in crash causation, information that is critical in planning road safety actions. Details of crashes at specific locations can also be used to plan engineering based solutions and enforcement initiatives.

    A good practice manual has been released to provide practical guidance on establishing data systems, and this provides excellent guidance on

  • why good data are important for road safety management
  • what kinds of data are required
  • conducting a situational assessment to identify relevant stakeholders, existing data sources and systems, the needs of end-users, and relevant political factors and resource availability
  • the steps needed to establish a working group and use the situational assessment to choose the best course of action
  • a range of strategies for improving data quality and strengthening the performance of systems already in place
  • the steps needed to plan, design and implement a new system
  • the types of data that should be collected
  • how to disseminate road safety data and maximize the likelihood of its use
  • how to use the data to improve road safety, monitor results and assess the impact of interventions.

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