LGRAS (00) 9 - POINTS ON THE PUBLICATION OF ROAD ACCIDENT STATISTICS, AND THE DEFINITIONS AND TERMINOLOGY USED
1. This paper covers some points regarding the publication of the road accident statistics, and the definitions and the terminology that are used for the statistics.
Publication of the road accident statistics for Scotland for 1999
2. Members of the Group will be sent copies of the "Key 1999 Road Accident Statistics" statistical bulletin when it is published on Thursday 15th June. It will be a straightforward update of the bulletin published last year. As in previous years, the figures that it contains are provisional, because they are subject to revisions caused by any late returns and amendments that Police Forces may submit to the Scottish Executive. This year, because of some problems that a few Police Forces have had with the conversion of their computer systems, the final figures may involve greater than normal revisions. However, we expect that the number of deaths will not change, and that the revisions to the numbers of people injured will be well below 0.5%.
3. "Final" figures for 1999 will be published in October, in "Road Accidents Scotland 1999". Paper LGRAS (00) 4 asked whether it should include any tables or charts on the Contributory Factor data supplied voluntarily by two Police Forces, and paper LGRAS (00) 5 sought views on the kinds of information relevant to the Road Safety targets for 2010 that might appear in this publication.
4. Members of the Group were sent copies of "Road Accidents Scotland 1998" when it was published in October last year (please contact the Secretary if you do not have a copy). Users' suggestions for possible changes for the next edition would be welcomed: for example, should it include, near at the start of the publication, a summary section giving various key statistics for the most recent ten (say) years, together with a short "main points" commentary? Would it be helpful to add tables or charts on topics which are not currently covered and - if so - which topics should be included in the publication? For example, should there be an analysis of the distances between people's homes and accident locations (e.g. x% of casualties were injured in accidents which took place within two kilometres of their homes), as such distances can now be estimated by using the newly-collected postcodes to obtain approximate grid references for drivers' and casualties' homes? Are there any tables or charts that should be omitted?
5. Members of the Group are invited to comment upon the content of the publication, and to suggest any changes that they feel ought to be made for "Road Accidents Scotland 1999".
6. Paper LGRAS (00) 3 referred to the proposed DETR investigation into ways of classifying the severity of an injury, and their implications for the consistency of the statistics and their compatibility with figures from other sources. Paper LGRAS (00) 4 mentioned that DETR will develop "STATS 20"-like definitions and guidelines for the proposed national system for recording Contributory Factors.
7. There may be other definitional matters which Members of the Group feel that it would be helpful to review, discuss or obtain advice on. Members of the Group are invited to ask any questions or make any points that they have on definitional matters.
8. The term "accident" has been used for many years. However, some organisations have chosen to use other terms, such as "collision", "crash" and "incident", perhaps because many road accidents are felt to be avoidable or preventable, whereas the word "accident" may suggest (e.g.) a "chance occurrence". Of course, it can be argued that such terms may not be appropriate: for example, "collision" in the case of a cyclist who is injured when he/she falls while going round a corner; "crash" in the case of a car hitting a pedestrian; and "incident" could refer to many other things (such as a car chase).
9. However, if there is a consensus that a particular term is the most appropriate, and if it were felt that to do so would be helpful, Transport Statistics could consider using (wherever appropriate) the new term instead of referring to "accidents" in its publications. Indeed, the publications "Key Road Accident Statistics" and "Road Accidents Scotland" could be renamed. For example, one could put the emphasis on casualties rather than accidents by renaming "Road Accidents Scotland" as (say) "Road Casualty Statistics" or "Road Casualties Scotland" or "Scottish Road Casualty Statistics". (This would seem preferable to giving it a title which refers to - e.g. - collisions, crashes or incidents).
10. Members of the Group are invited to give their views on these matters.