Press release
18 October 2001


A new report published today by ETSC calls on the EU to introduce a set of relevant safety performance indicators for the continuous monitoring and analysis of safety performance in all transport modes.

Fred Wegman, Director of the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) and chairman of the ETSC working group on transport safety performance indicators said:

"Transport accidents and injuries present a cost to the European Union estimated at 160 billion Euro - around 2% of Gross Domestic Product - around twice its entire annual budget for all activity. Policymakers and managers aiming for a higher level of safety need to take an interest in as many of the factors influencing safety as possible and, at least, in those factors they are able to affect or control. Safety performance indicators provide a means by which policymakers can ensure that their actions are as effective as possible and represent the best use of public resource".

"The European Commission should encourage Member States to agree upon and regularly collect a scientifically established set of safety indicators for all transport modes. The introduction of transport safety performance indicators at European and national level represents a means of assessing the trends in safety levels and the success of casualty reduction programmes. Once introduced and established for all the transport modes, the application of safety performance indicators will further stimulate safety work and thus reduce crash rates across Europe".

A summary of recommendations from the ETSC report Transport Safety Performance Indicators is given overleaf. The Executive Summary and the report are available on ETSC's website


Transport safety performance indicators are defined as any measurement that is casually related to crashes or injuries, used in addition to a count of crashes or injuries, in order to indicate safety performance or understand the road accident trends.

Such indicators can give a more complete picture of the level of transport safety and can point to the emergence of new problems at an early stage, before these problems show up in the form of accidents. A regular monitoring of safety performance indicators improves the understanding of road accident trends. Since these monitoring results can become available far more quickly than registered accidents, they are particularly useful for policymakers. Experience in some EU Member States show that the authorities using performance indicators are more engaged with their policies if performance indicators data are reported to them regularly.

In view of the above, ETSC recommends to the EU:

  • To set up and specify a set of relevant safety performance indicators (SPI) to be used at European and national level as a means of assessing the trends in safety levels and the success of casualty reduction programmes;
  • To convene, for this purpose, a working group of the High Level Group on Road Safety, comprising road safety experts and representatives of the Member States to consider the list of 'best practice SPI' as suggested in section 5 of this report, i.e. behavioural indicators on speed, alcohol, restraint systems and safety devices as well as SPI in the areas of quality management of road networks, vehicle fleets and emergency services;
  • To support feasibility and pilot studies on SPI collection and application at Member State level;
  • To require, on the basis of the above studies, the Member States to collect SPI in a regular and harmonised way and to encourage them to make continuous safety monitoring an integral part of their national safety strategies;
  • To give guidance to the Member States as regards data collection and observation methodologies (such as sampling frequencies, sample size and time, measuring protocols) as well as on data administration and fusion, in order to produce harmonised sets of SPI that are comparable over time and between countries at a European scale; to recommend that independent bodies collect data on SPI;
  • To help disseminate current best practice in collection and use of safety performance indicators across the Member States and make annual results and trends available in statistical publications as well as through the electronic media such as the Internet and the Commission's future Road Safety Information System;
  • To require the Member States to deliver regularly an agreed set of national SPI data to the Commission for international communication, taking the Commission's "Road Safety Quick Indicator" and the CARE database as an example;
  • To negotiate, during the consultations on the coming action programme, a common set of relevant SPI with the Member States and to implement quantified targets for SPI into the programme;
  • To include a task in the 6th R&D framework programme of carrying out further research into running and benchmarking integrated safety management programmes, with a view to the causal relationships between safety performance indicators and crashes or injuries; and
  • For the other transport modes, there is a need to develop a comprehensive set of performance indicators covering the whole sector and to use that information to improve safety and for more transparent and rational decision making. This requires a general accepted model of why accidents occur and how to prevent them effectively and efficiently. It is recommended to develop such a model and to derive from that model performance indicators.

Contact details: Jeanne Breen, Executive Director + 32 (0) 2 230 4106/4004