Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Sharing Road Safety: Developing an International Framework for Crash Modification Functions

Research Report

Almost 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year, and between 20 and 50 million are injured. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years of age. Road crashes cost countries between 1 and 3 per cent of their GDP. In the face of these facts, the need for effective road safety policies is undeniable. 

Governments can more effectively improve road safety by making better use of indicators that reliably quantify the reduction of crashes due to interventions in the road-traffic system. According to the study, lack of quantifiable evidence about the effects of countermeasures – such as roadway signage, pedestrian crossing treatments, roadway geometric features, etc. – on road crashes is a key obstacle to the advancement of many critical, life-saving road safety initiatives. 

Through the use of indicators - so-called Crash Modification Functions (CMF) that provide measures of how interventions affect the number and gravity of road crashes - governments can reduce the risk of taking decisions that have little or no impact on improving road safety.

Dr Steve Lawson, Partnerships and Research Director, International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) comments: “This is a pathfinding report that reinforces the importance of understanding the effectiveness of road safety countermeasures – it will be useful to practitioners, researchers and policy-makers alike. iRAP’s work towards enabling a world free of high risk roads relies heavily upon reports such as this where best-in-field come together to establish the theoretical framework and add available knowledge to that.”

Policy Insights

  • Road safety policies should undergo performance and efficiency evaluations. Such evaluations cannot be undertaken without Crash Modification Functions (CMFs). Evaluation processes should be documented to ensure they are transparent.
  • Research conducted to develop CMFs should follow the guidance provided in this report and, in particular, provide specific information that describes the countermeasure under consideration, the safety issue being addressed and the roadway environment in which it was tested.
  • It is recommended that an international group be composed under an existing organization (e.g. Transportation Research Board, World Road Association, etc.) to foster dialog among researchers and practitioners on CMF research and reporting standards with the aim of increasing transferability of results. Coordination of research across countries on top priority countermeasures should be considered.
  • International cooperation should aim to capture documentation and reporting of CMF research in a widely available transnational database.
  • A concerted effort should be made to publicize the benefits of decision-making based on CMFs. This should take the form of: presentations and workshops at transport, injury prevention and health conferences; press releases; letters to political leaders and senior bureaucrats.

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