Road Safety Development Index : Theory, Philosophy and Practice

Abstract: This dissertation develops, presents and tests a new international tool, the so-called Road Safety Development Index (RSDI), which indicates in a comprehensive and easy way the severity of the road safety situation in a specific country and/or in comparison with other countries. There are three pillars of outcomes involved in the framework of RSDI. One pillar is the People focus (road user behaviour). The second is the System focus (safer vehicles, safer roads, enforcement, management, etc). The third is the Product focus in terms of accident death rates. This thesis analyses each of these pillars. In addition, RSDI links the key national practices of road safety to each other and to the end-results (accident death rates). The study suggests a master-list of performance indicators to be implemented for assessing road safety level in a country and for RSDI building. Based on the “master-list”, a short key list of performance indicators is chosen and classified into two primary categories that correspond to two groups of countries: LMCs “Less Motorised Countries” and HMCs “Highly Motorised Countries”. RSDI aggregates the key performance indicators into one single quantitative value (composite index). Four main objective and subjective approaches are used to calculate RSDI and determine which one is the best. One approach uses equal weights for all indicators and countries, whereas the other approaches give different weights depending on the importance of indicators. Two empirical studies were carried out, in different parts of the world, to determine the applicability of this tool in real world applications. The first empirical study comes from eight European countries (HMCs). The second empirical study comes from five Southeast Asian countries (LMCs). The RSDI results from this study indicate a remarkable difference between the selected countries even at the same level of motorisation and/or with close accident death rates. The unavailability of comparable and useful data are problems for deeper analysis of RSDI, especially the index should be as relevant as possible for different parts of the world. The empirical and theoretical assessments prove that RSDI can give a broader picture of the whole road safety situation in a country compared to the traditional models and can offer a simple and easily understandable tool to national policy makers and public.