Quantitative road safety targets
A high price in human and economic terms is currently being paid in Europe for motorized road mobility. Current levels and socio-economic costs of deaths and injuries resulting from road crashes are considered unacceptable in ECMT and EU countries. An increasing number of countries, therefore, are implementing long term road safety strategies and programmes towards their reduction or eventual elimination around a framework of quantitative road safety targets and long term goals .
What are quantitative targets?
Targets are expressions of national road safety ambition
Quantitative targets represent the road safety results which a country or jurisdiction wishes to achieve over a given time frame. A country’s focus on results and how they are to be achieved by system-wide intervention and effective institutional management is at the core of an effective national road safety management system and national road safety strategy. Countries have become more ambitious over time in their choice of long term goals and interim quantitative targets with implications for the interventions selected and their delivery by institutions across the road safety partnership .
Target types: final, intermediate and output targets
Targets for final outcomes (long and interim targets to reduce deaths and injuries) are used widely in many countries in national, regional and local road safety strategies and programmes. Targets have also been set for intermediate outcomes (e.g. decreases in mean speeds, increases in seat belt use) and institutional delivery outputs (e.g. numbers of random breath tests, speed checks) which allow closer management of the range of interventions needed to achieve final outcome targets.
Why set targets?
In the latest evolution of the road safety management system, key institutional management functions provide the foundation for system-wide interventions to achieve a range of results expressed as different types of quantitative targets .Targets provide the focus for the national road safety strategy and the level of their ambition drive decisions about coordination needs, legislative needs, funding and resource allocation, promotion needs, monitoring and evaluation, as well as research, development and knowledge transfer. Research and experience indicate that long term goals and interim targets lead to
- Increased political will and stakeholder accountability for road safety
- Closer management of strategies and programmes, better safety programmes and better safety performance, especially when targets are ambitious
- Better use of public resource
- Increased motivation of stakeholders
How to set targets?
Current good practice involves a combination of top down long term goals as well as bottom up interim targets (usually of 7-10 year duration), which are soundly related to interventions, their likely effectiveness in the national road safety strategy and the quality of their delivery . Result focus is the overarching function of lead agency management for road safety which defines the country’s level of ambition for road safety and takes into account the interventions and institutional arrangements which need to be put in place in order to realise it . The process involves
- Appraising current road safety performance through high-level strategic review
- Adopting a far-reaching road safety vision or goal for the longer term
- Analysing what could be achieved in the shorter term
- Agreeing targets and ensuring accountability across the road safety partnership
How to ensure accountability?
Targets need to be agreed across the road safety partnership since they specify the desired safety performance which is endorsed by governments at all levels, stakeholders and the community. Good practice indicates that governmental and professional consultation on targets forming the focus of the road safety strategy is usually conducted within the national road safety coordination hierarchy followed by a public consultation process. Governmental approval of the targets and national strategy is carried out within the upper tier of the multi-sectoral coordination body. Public service targets and agreements are means by which Government demonstrates its role and accountability for road safety responsibilities. Audit, independent reviews and inspection bodies monitor compliance.
How to monitor targets?
This involves continuous monitoring of targeted and other safety performance indicators, establishing the effectiveness of specific road safety measures by carrying out before and after studies; reviewing and updating of policies and measures with re-distribution of resources towards more cost-effective measures; identifying delays in implementation requiring corrective action; establishing the level of public support for interventions
Targets lacking political support are unlikely to obtain the level of funding or other resources needed for their attainment. A purely symbolic target has no value. Targets should be accompanied by well-orchestrated and funded safety programmes designed to realise them. The national target should have currency in the actions and goals of all responsible key agencies. Good practice shows that interim targets set within the specific time frame of a national road safety strategy or programme need to be ambitious but realistic.