Road safety data

Good data are needed to correctly identify problems, risk factors and priority areas, and to formulate strategy, set targets and monitor performance. Quality data are also needed to raise awareness about road traffic injuries to convince policymakers of the need for action and to allocate resources. A good road crash data system should capture nearly all crashes, provide adequate detail on vehicle, road user, environment, and accurate location.

Key stakeholders, primarily within government sector that are involved in data collection are:

Police/law enforcement: Making reports if the laws have been broken, or to document a road crash. A better data system will provide the Police an opportunity to monitor the occurrence of infringements and to target and identify risk factors and areas to emphasize their focus.

Transport: Responsible for the road system, vehicle standards and user behavior. For all aspects of road safety responsibility, good data can be used to target risk areas ‘black spots’ or attitudes (drink driving, speeding etc).

Health: Paying the bill, hospitals and the health sector have an interest in having better quality data. They can use the data to improve prevention programmes, and strengthen the pre-hospital and trauma care services.

In order to conduct an overall situational assessment of the system, different data sources need to be integrated to show the magnitude of the problem to convince policy makers of the need for action.  The main objective of a situational assessment are to identify: people and agencies involved in the collection and processing of data, data sources and systems already in place, the needs of the end-users and political factors that will help of hinder the improvement of road safety data systems. The Data System’s manual of which this page is built on and advocating to use, gives practical guidance on how to conduct a situational assessment.

One important issue is to agree to a set of definitions – at least within a country – in order for the different data sources to be combined. The recommended definition of a road traffic crash/accident is “a collision or incident involving at least one road vehicles in motion, on a public road or private road to which the public has right of access”. According to the UNECE glossary road vehicles includes both motorized and non-motorised vehicles running or drawn by wheels. The recommended definition of a road traffic fatality is “any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of a road traffic injury accident, excluding suicides”. It is recommended that injury that requires admission to hospital for at least 24 hours or specialist attention, such as fractures, concussions, severe chock and severe lacerations are defined as serious injury.  Injury that requires little or no medical attention is defined as slight/minor injury.

The World Bank publication Country Guidelines for the Conduct of Road Safety states in its recent report (2010):  “The absence of reliable death and injury data must not impede taking urgent action, but the building of countrywide data systems should be an immediate focus.” The Good practice manual on Data Systems gives detailed advice on how to design, improve and implement data systems, involving key stakeholders – in particular the police, noting that there is no single approach that will be right for every country or jurisdiction. A common dataset with minimum data elements and definitions are proposed. For already existing data systems, advice are giving on how to improve the quality of data and workflow.

In building up the system other sources might be included such as Insurance company, Academic research, NGO surveys

Tthe Global Status Report on Road Safety published by WHO in 2013 is the first broad assessment of the road safety situation in 182 countries, using data drawn from a standardized survey. The results show that road traffic injuries remain an important public health problem, particularly for low-income and middle-income countries. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists make up almost half of those killed on the roads, highlighting the need for these road users to be given more attention in road safety programmes. The results suggest that in many countries road safety laws need to be made more comprehensive while enforcement should be strengthened. The Global status report on road safety results clearly show that significantly more action is needed to make the world's roads safer. The result and advice is built on data, and the Report states that data and good data is needed to make any sustainable reduction on road traffic injuries.

The GRSP Knowledge base has a good source for data collection and reporting giving practical examples of databases, reporting forms, database management systems etc

In September 2010, GRSP organised a days workshop in Botswana on Data manangement. Click here to down load the training material: Data Systems Introduction and Situational Analysis.

Other relevant links are:

International Road Federation




Global Burden of Disease

Health Metric Network

UN road safety collaboration

Link to case studies


Global Status Report on Road Safety

Towards Zero - Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System

Country Guidelines for the Conduct of Road Safety