What are quantitative targets?

Quantitative road safety targets represent the desired road safety results which a country or jurisdiction wishes to achieve over a given timeframe.


Targets are used widely in many countries in national, regional and local road safety strategies and programmes. Road safety targets in EU Member States differ widely as to performance indicator, timescale and degree of challenge [2]. Countries have become more ambitious over time in their choice of quantitative target with implications for the interventions selected and their delivery by institutions across the road safety partnership [4]. Most EU countries aim to reduce the annual number of deaths by 40 to 50% within typically about 10 years. These percentages represent an ambition to reduce the number of deaths more quickly than continuation of past trends would imply.


Targets are usually expressed in terms of final outcomes e.g. reduction in numbers of deaths and serious injuries. Some EU countries are pursuing the long-term outcome of elimination of deaths and serious injuries with interim targeted reductions. There need be no contradiction between a far-reaching long-term goal and a challenging but achievable, and thus necessarily more modest, shorter-term target associated with a strategy for the foreseeable future [2]. Targets can also be expressed as intermediate outcome targets e.g. reductions in average mean speed or increases in seat belt use. Some countries set output targets for their institutional service delivery e.g. number of breath tests required to be administered annually by the police. The New Zealand targets illustrates some of the different types of targets which can be set, although this comprehensive target hierarchy is not yet in use in European countries.


New Zealand's target hierarchy


  • The overall target is to reduce the socio-economic costs of road crashes
  • To be achieved by meeting the second level of targets, requiring specific reductions in the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries
  • A third level of targets consists of performance indicators (including those related to speed, drink driving and rates of seat-belt wearing) that are consistent with the targeted reductions in final outcomes;
  • A fourth level of targeting is concerned with institutional delivery outputs such as the enforcement outputs that are required to achieve the third-level targets.
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