International benchmarking of road safety: State of the art

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Yongjun Shen
Elke Hermans
Tom Brijs
Geert Wets

The road traffic crashes and consequent injuries and fatalities, traditionally regarded as random, unavoidable ‘accidents’, have been more and more recognized as a preventable public health problem. Given the fact that more and more countries are taking steps to improve their road safety situation, there is a growing need for these countries to work together more closely, because there are quite a number of common problems that can be identified in close cooperation, and improvement can be expected by learning lessons from existing best practices in other countries. As a consequence, comparison between a range of countries in terms of their road safety performance and development or − using state-of-the-art terminology − inter-national benchmarking of road safety, is currently widely advocated by most countries and international bodies. However, performing a successful road safety benchmarking practice is by no means easy. Challenges exist from the definition of benchmarking framework at the very beginning to the final decisions in terms of identification of best practices and establishment of a continuous process of mutual learning. In this paper, based on a brief review of the concept of benchmarking, a benchmarking cycle for road safety is proposed. Moreover, as a valuable benchmarking tool, the development of a road safety index is highlighted, a number of recent studies are presented, and some theoretical and practical issues are discussed.

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