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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Final outcome targets



Final outcome targets

A range of final outcome targets are used in national road safety strategies and programmes:

Long term final outcome targets include highly ambitious goals of eliminating death and serious injury in the road traffic system, incremental quantitative targets or stand-alone targets for the duration of a road safety strategy. They usually comprise targets aimed at reducing numbers of deaths or serious injuries expressed as targeted percentage reductions. Some countries use target reductions in casualty rates e.g. deaths per 100,000 population or deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles. However, a declining rate such as deaths per numbers of vehicles may mask increases in numbers of deaths and injuries which is why numbers rather than rates are, in general, found to be more useful. An additional reason for selecting numbers rather than rates is the perception that communication with stakeholders and the public will be easier [2].

International, national, regional and local targets Final outcome targets can be set by different levels of government.

International targets

For example, European targets have been set by the European Union and the ECMT which all member countries have signed up to. However, these are, generally, regarded as aspirational rather than achievable targets within the set time frame.

Without increasingly effective road safety efforts of authorities on all levels the EU target for EU-15 will not be achieved [18]. It was estimated that given the willingness to invest and to give priority to effective policies, the application of known and available road safety measures for vehicles and roads and via intensified police enforcement, could reduce about 70% of deaths to 2010 compared with 2003 [18].

European-wide targets

  • The WHO Health for All policy in Europe set international targets to reduce mortality and disability from road crashes by at least 30% by 2020.
  • ECMT countries agreed in 2002 to reduce deaths by 50% by the year 2012 compared with the year 2000.
  • EU countries have agreed a target to reduce deaths by 50% by the year 2010 compared with the year 2001.

National targets

Since the 1970s when the first road safety outcome target was set in Europe, nnational targets have been used widely in road safety strategies and programmes.

30 years of target and goal setting in Finland

Finland was the first European country to set a national target in 1973. It met this first very challenging target - to reduce deaths by 50% by the end of the 1970s - and achieved the largest fatality reduction in Europe during the 1970s [17]. Contributing to the success of the target were the introduction of speed limits, compulsory use of seat belts, as well as external factors such as the oil crisis.

The second target to reduce road deaths by 50% by the year 2000 was set in 1989 and was also successful. A more structured approach to speed limits was introduced for urban areas, pedestrian and cycle paths were built. Economic recession also played its part in the reduced numbers of road deaths.

The third target to halve the number of deaths by 2005 was set in 1997 but after a fairly poor start was later revised to 2010. In 2001, the long term goal was set that 'the road transport system should be designed so that nobody should die or be seriously injured on the roads' in addition to the ambitious interim target.

Source: Peltola, 2003

Several EU countries have set long term final outcome goals to make the road system intrinsically safe e.g. Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Norway. The Swedish Vision Zero for example, seeks the elimination of death and serious injury from road crashes.

Such countries have also set interim targets towards achieving incremental improvements in performance over a period of 7-10 years. A range of outcome targets in current use are described in the table

Examples of quantified final outcome safety targets (deaths) in Europe (Elvik, 2003)
Country Base-year for target Year in which target is to be realised Target for reduction of the number of road fatalities
Austria 1998-2000 2010 -50%
Denmark 1998 2012 -40%
Estonia 2002 2015 -55%
Finland 2000 2010 -37%
Finland 2000 2025 -75%
France 1997 2002 -50%
Great Britain 1994-98 2010 -40%
Greece 2000 2005 -20%
Greece 2000 2015 -40%
Ireland 1997 2002 -20%
Italy 1998-2000 2010 -40%
Netherlands 1998 2010 -30%
Poland 1997-1999 2010 -43%
Sweden 1996 2007 -50%

Example of final outcome targets set in Britain between 1987 - 2005

Against the background of changes in general public service delivery, the first national casualty reduction target was set in Britain in 1987, following a comprehensive review of road safety policy and research. The target was to reduce casualties by one third by 2000 compared with the average for 1981-85. Although the overall target was not achieved due to increasing minor injuries, deaths declined by 39% and serious injuries by 49%. The target process led to an increased profile for road safety; increased resources for and more discussion of national and local action.

Following a consultation exercise launched in 1996, new bottom-up targets based were proposed by the Department for Transport and approved by Cabinet and Parliament. Compared with the average of 1994-98, new targets were set to achieve a 40% reduction in killed and seriously injured casualties, a 50% reduction in children killed and seriously injured and a 10% reduction in the casualty rate for slight injures per kilometre travelled by 2010. A further public service agreement target was set for the Department for Transport for 2005 - to reduce casualties in deprived areas of England more rapidly than in Britain as a whole.

In 2002, the UK joined other member countries in signing up to highly ambitious aspirational targets set by the European Union and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport.

Regional and local targets Regional and local targets are also set, especially where such jurisdictions have specific responsibilities for the road network and where the direct influence of national government programmes may be more limited.

In the Netherlands, for example, regional targets aggregating to the national target are required and local authorities are required to prepare a plan comprising a general package of measures and to indicate budgets, staffing levels and organization.

Example of final national and regional outcome targets in the Netherlands

Current targets in the Netherlands comprise

  • Reducing the number of traffic deaths to a maximum of 750 in 2010 and 580 in 2020 (respective decreases of more than 15% and 45% in comparison with 2002)
  • Reducing the number of injuries requiring hospitalization to a maximum of 17,000 injuries requiring hospitalization in 2010 and a maximum of 12,250 injuries requiring hospitalization in 2020 (compared to 2002 this represents a decline of 7.5%and 34% respectively)
  • National quantitative targets to reduce deaths are split up into 19 regional targets. Each region has an equal target, given that the conditions between regions do not differ greatly. The regions and provinces determine their own plans and measures to reach these targets
  • Retaining the Netherlands position among the top 4 within the European Union in 2010 and 2020.

In some countries, the difference between regions in terms of traffic volumes and mixes may be too large to enable simple, equal disaggregation of the national target and further analysis will be needed to identify an appropriate level of ambition.

In Germany, a target has been set in the region of North Rhine Westphalia although there is no national target. Devolution of key aspects of road safety from the federal government to provincial governments can make it less than straightforward to work through a national strategy and target [2].Traditionally, Norwegian politicians have been opposed to quantified national road safety targets, arguing that such targets are unethical, and that the only ethically defensible target for road accident fatalities is zero, but an interim target is currently being discussed.Vision Zero has been officially adopted as the basis for transport safety policy in Norway [16].

Targets are also set at local level e.g. in Norway and Great Britain. A review of local target-setting in Norwegian counties in the 1980s found that counties where quantified safety targets were set succeeded in reducing the accident rate per kilometre of travel more than counties relying on qualitative targets only. Counties with highly ambitious targets had a better safety performance than did counties with less ambitious targets or no quantified targets [14].

Other types of final outcome target

Child casualties In addition to targets to reduce killed and seriously injured casualties and the casualty rate for slight injuries, Britain has set a target for 50% reduction in children killed and seriously injured by 2010 (baseline 1994-1998 average).

Social costs In New Zealand a reduction in social costs of road injury crashes has been specifically targeted within the duration of the current road safety strategy

Social costs of injury crashes: targets and outcomes 2003/2004 Base Targets
  2001 2004
not exceeding
not exceeding
Social Cost (2001 prices)      
$ billion 3.02 2.75 2.15
Cents per vehicle-km 8.4 6.7 4.4
$ per person 783 700 650
$ per vehicle 1145 1020 940