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|Title: ||Building the European Road Safety Observatory. SafetyNet. Deliverable D4.2 Database transparency|
|Authors: ||Jahi, Heikki|
Brace, Charlotte L.
Usami, D. Shingo
de Vries, Ydo
|Issue Date: ||2006|
|Publisher: ||European Commission, Directorate-General Transport and Energy|
|Citation: ||JAHL, H. ... et al., 2006. Building the European Road Safety Observatory. SafetyNet. Deliverable D4.2 Database transparency|
|Abstract: ||Road transport and all road transport related industries are clearly very
important to European economy and societies. In terms of impact to European
employment for instance, road transport is probably the most important
transport sector. On the other hand, the relatively poor road safety – accidents,
those killed and injured, material damage and other socio-economic costs –
constitutes a major socio-economic problem.
While road safety has recently emerged as an issue on all political decisionmaking
levels, it was for a long time neglected compared to the issue of safety
in the public transport modes, such as rail, air and maritime. This delay and the
requirement of independence for accident investigating entities in the public
transport modes result from the characteristics of different transport modes.
Independence of an investigation body is to be understood as a means of
assuring its impartiality – and that of the investigations it conducts.
However, the independence of the investigation body and processes do not
resolve the question of the quality of investigations. The quality of the
investigation work relies certainly on the impartiality of the investigating body
and processes, but also on the qualifications and experience of the
investigators, as well as the investigation methods they use. It is not
independence, but transparency that best describes these aspects of accident
investigation. We shall define transparency as the availability of such relevant
information on the accident investigation, which allow its quality to be assessed.
In this deliverable, we have applied the concept of transparency only to
databases, but it does apply to all accident investigation results: data, case
studies or accident reports and any other subsequent data.
Investigation bodies frequently cooperate with similar bodies from other
countries or with other stakeholders (manufacturers, operators, regulators,
consumers etc.), for specific accident investigations, and such interrelations
strengthen their impartiality. In quite a similar manner, transparency can be
further facilitated by the use of international methods and standards. The
process of building a European road safety community through Commission
supported research programmes is important in creating interrelations between
research institutes and in creating progressively a body of common European
accident investigation methods, standards, data and knowledge.
The reviewed databases can roughly be divided in two categories. There are
the police collected data that, in spite of their drawbacks, have the advantage of
being national. The percentage of under-reporting and under-recording can be
quite consequent, but this is rather irrelevant when national statistics are used
for continued trend monitoring for instance. On the other hand there are the
research oriented databases, whose uses are specific and depend on the
research objectives. In some cases such databases might result for instance
from legal obligations set for insurers, and might even contain police or other
extensive data from certain areas and for longer periods. Other databases have
been designed for a one-off use.
Project co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate-General Transport and Energy
sn_inrets_wp4_d4.2_final_03/02/2006 Page 5
All the databases reviewed in this deliverable are, according to our evaluation,
transparent. In other terms, there is sufficient information available on all the
relevant aspects of these databases for assessing their actual quality. Making
quality evaluations was not an objective of this work package and we have not
proceeded to such quality evaluations. The principal reason for this is the fact
that databases cannot be evaluated against a single scale. They have been
designed for answering specific questions and should be judged on the basis of
how well they reach that particular objective. The establishment of criteria for
evaluating the transparency of accident investigation data (databases in this
deliverable) was in itself a challenging task. Nevertheless we felt it had to be
completed by some considerations on the use of accident investigation data
and the limits that should be set to transparency.
The only necessary limit that should be set to the transparency of accident
investigation data is the right to privacy. Individual, identifiable accident level
data should not be made publicly available – unless such data is necessary for
understanding the circumstances and the sequence of events in case of major
accidents (like the public transport accidents frequently are).
There is another limitation to the transparency of accident investigation data,
which results from the nature of that data. The investigation data is not just
“observed” but is “constructed” according to specific, well-defined
methodological choices. The process of data gathering, which begins with the
choice of some particular pieces of information amongst a large number of
details about an accident and ends with synthesized data, is a rather complex
process and calls for specific qualifications and experience. The same is of
course true –unfortunately perhaps – for appreciating the investigation results
and participating to any debates about their scientific quality.
While this limitation is real and has to be accepted, there is no need – quite the
contrary – to conceal information from the public. Transport safety in all
transport modes is an issue of public interest and adequate1 safety information,
including accident investigation data, has to be publicly available. Sometimes
public will misinterprete some of the available data, which will need to be dealt
with. In any case, this would be a far lesser evil than having to constantly
reassure the public that important safety related information is not being
|Description: ||This is a report|
|Appears in Collections:||Official Reports (Design School)|
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