How’s stat? Royal Statistical Society acclaims DfT

12.00 | 8 July 2016 | | 3 comments

The Department for Transport (DfT) has received a prestigious award for the “thoughtful and innovative” way it presents official statistics on road safety (Civil Service World).

The DfT has been handed the Royal Statistical Society’s annual official statistics award, in part for including ‘honest appraisals’ over what can and cannot be concluded from its statistical releases.

Presented in conjunction with the UK Statistics Authority, the award aims to flag excellent examples of the use of stats by public bodies, with a particular focus on developments that improve the user experience.

The DfT’s road safety team provides regular updates on levels of personal injury and casualties recorded on Britain’s public roads.

Its latest release, published in June 2016, has been lauded by the awards’ judges for pointing out that a 2% year-on-year fall in the number of people killed in accidents “is small enough that it can be explained by the natural variation in deaths over time”. The report also says “there is no evidence that the number of fatalities has changed over recent years”.

Jill Leyland, chair of the organising committee for the Official Statistics Awards, told Civil Service World: “The entry combined a clear appreciation of user need, interesting insights, thoughtful and innovative methodology and excellent communication including honest appraisals of the degree of statistical certainty or uncertainty.

“Work on the impact of weather on road accidents was particularly impressive and showed how good statistical thinking can draw out new, and sometimes counter-intuitive, conclusions from available data."

Ms Leyland concluded the DfT’s work “should inspire other statisticians to think creatively about what information really helps decision makers tackle difficult problems”.



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    Well done to the DfT’s Stat’s team! There has been a noticeable change over the last two years with previous ‘dry’ releases replaced with a much more thoughtful approach.

    There is a clear desire to get to the bottom of why trends are happening (or aren’t actually happening) and the questions posed are of importance to everyone working in the field.

    I would strongly encourage everyone to read through the most recent release and consider how they interpret their own data as a result.

    Richard Owen
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    Commiserations to the runners-up… it’s not the winning that counts – it’s the taking part. Was there much competition this year? Excuse the cynicism, but this seems like yet another ‘award’ to members of a profession for doing what is normally expected of them as paid members of that profession.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Well done DfT and all who work there for doing your job well, congatulations.

    R.Craven Blackpool
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