The turning point in the number of traffic fatalities: Two hypotheses about changes in underlying trends

Publisher's full text
Ulf Brüde
Rune Elvik

The number of traffic fatalities reached a peak in many highly motorised countries around 1970. Some previous studies have suggested that the turning point in the number of traffic fatalities was inevitable and did not reflect a change in the underlying trends influencing the number of traffic fatalities. Other studies suggest that trends in traffic growth and fatality rate changed from before to after the turning point. This paper proposes two hypotheses about the turning point in the number of traffic fatalities. One hypothesis is that the long-term trends in traffic growth and fatality rate were the same before and after the turning point. The other hypothesis is that the long-term trends in traffic growth and fatality rate were different before and after the turning point was reached, in particular that the annual percentage decline in fatality rate became greater after the turning point than before. Such a change would suggest that road safety policy became more effective. Analysis of data for six countries (Denmark, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United States) lends stronger support to the latter hypothesis than to the former. The lesson for policy makers, in particular in countries where the number of traffic fatalities is still growing, is that they should not expect a turning point to be reached without policy interventions.



Open seminar with Mistra SAMS international scientific advisory...

Mistra SAMS international scientific advisory panel (ISAP) is visiting Stockholm, and the program will host an open seminar where the panel members will give talks in their area of expertise.

ERPUG 2017

The five year anniversary of  European Road Profile Users' Group (ERPUG) Forum will take place at Ramboll head quarter, Copenhagen, Denmark October 19-20, 2017. 



Vehicle Driver Monitoring: sleepiness and cognitive load

To prevent road crashes it is important to understand driver related contributing factors, which have been suggested to be the critical reason in 94 per cent of crashes. The overall aim of the project Vehicle Driver Monitoring has been to advance the...


Tomas Svensson new director-general

Tomas Svensson was today appointed Director-General of VTI. Tomas has been acting Director-General since January 2017. 


Crash testing bicycles at VTI

For the first time single bicycle crashes have been simulated at the VTI crash safety laboratory.


A case study exploring firefighters’ and municipal officials’ preparedness for electrical vehicles

A VTI-study presents a social perspective on new vehicle technology. It explores the self-reported preparedness of the fire departments (i.e., rescue services) in Sweden’s three largest cities regarding rescue operations involving electrical vehicles (EVs).


Pioneering research on and about bicycles at VTI

Under what circumstances might cyclists lose tyre grip? What actions could then be taken to prevent a crash? VTI is currently developing a theoretical model of the behaviour of bicycle tyres during braking and steering in different situations and on different...


Virtual pedestrians create efficient stations

If more people are to choose sustainable travel, then the public transport stations of the future must be designed so that pedestrians can get where they are going quickly, without congestion or queues. The Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)...