Good data a ‘vital component’ to addressing road safety

11.18 | 28 September 2020 | | 3 comments

Local authorities are being encouraged to be ‘much smarter’ in the use of data before committing to potentially significant road safety investments.

Norfolk-based road safety technology firm Westcotec says effective collection and expert analysis of data helps to ensure that resources can be targeted where they are most needed – and avoids the risk of paying large sums on interventions that may not be appropriate.

It cites the example of road monitoring activity from a location in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

The monitoring, using equipment provided and installed by Westcotec, allowed the local authority to analyse average speeds and traffic volumes at all times of day in the week before lockdown, and to compare them directly with speeds and volumes once lockdown had begun.

Will Spinks, a member of the Westcotec sales and marketing team, said: “The biggest difference in volumes was recorded at 10am, with 500 vehicles per hour recorded in the week of 16 March and just 320 vehicles per hour in the week of 23 March – a 36% reduction. 

“Where average speeds were concerned, analysts could see immediately that between 8am and midnight there was a consistent 3mph rise between 7am and midnight, peaking at 9am with a rise of almost 4mph.

“This kind of precise, location-specific data can be examined alongside casualty data to determine what interventions, if any, may be effective at the location.”

Iain Temperton, independent road safety consultant and founder of Traject, says local authorities need to be much smarter in the use of data when planning initiatives for road safety, air quality monitoring or modal shift to help ease congestion and pollution.

He said: “Progress in casualty reduction has slowed over the last decade, so it is vital that road safety professionals use data and evidence to inform their practice in the years to come. 

“Now that we have the international call to halve road deaths by 2030 and reach Vision Zero targets by 2040, we simply cannot afford to waste time and money on schemes of work that are not effective. We must also harvest our data from every possible source.”



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    Unfortunately quality data is lacking especially when it comes to National road traffic collision statistics. Either it is lacking on Police report forms or not transferred…both I fear.
    This leads to a myriad of poor planning decisions made like dropping speed limits from 60 to 50 on country roads or the proposal to change all 30 limits to 20 based on false assumptions with no justification or proper scientific methodology. Most people are too busy to notice the changes creep in and feel they can’t do/ say anything about it so it gets passed and we all suffer. Campaigners are never satisfied. If they were 20 then they would campaign for 10, if they were 10 we must go for 5. Let’s face it they just want you to stop using your car….but then how does the govt recoup all that lost tax? We could improve road safety for starters by banning pensioners from driving all together and and not cycle on main roads. They can use public transport to get about.

    Geoff, Nottingham
    Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

    Yes, good traffic data is important and yes observation should be done as well. Isn’t that what most of us do anyway?
    by the way, ref the example of 500 vehicles/hr v 320 vehicles/hr. Nothing really striking about those relatively low numbers on both counts, couldn’t they find a better example?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

    Collision data should notbe the be all and end all…one needs to be open-minded about analysis and not jump to conclusions. If examining a collsion hot-spot, you can’t beat observing driver behaviour at the site for an hour or so, to identfy problems

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (3) | Disagree (11)

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