LGRAS (01) 1 - "ROAD ACCIDENTS SCOTLAND"
1. Introduction and background
1.1 This paper discusses some possible changes to the annual Road Accidents Scotland publication. Members of the Group are invited to comment on these matters.
1.2 Members of the Group will recall the discussion, at the previous meeting, of the possible publication in Road Accidents Scotland 1999 of statistics of contributory factors (see paper LGRAS  4), figures related to the road safety targets for 2010 (LGRAS  5), and some other information (LGRAS  9). The advice of the Group was:
- statistics of contributory factors should not be published yet: further research and analysis would be required first;
- figures relating to the new "killed or seriously injured" targets should be published: the 1994-98 averages and the 1999 figures for each local authority area, separately for "trunk roads" and "non trunk roads". However, they should not be split by road user type, and there should not be a percentage change from the 1994-98 average to the 1999 figure;
- slight casualty rate figures for local authority areas should be calculated when the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) had estimated the total traffic volume for each area, and should be published as indices;
- an analysis of the distance between people's homes and accident locations would be useful; and
- a summary section, giving the main points, should be added.
1.3 Transport Statistics developed Road Accidents Scotland 1999 accordingly. Copies were sent to Members of the Group when it was published. Local figures relating to the new "killed or seriously injured" targets were published in Table 44, information on the distance between people's homes and accident locations was published in Tables 19 (drivers) and 43 (casualties), and the summary section was added (pages 12-15). Local figures for slight casualty rates could not be published, because DETR had not estimated the total traffic volumes for local authority areas that were required as the denominators for these rates.
1.4 Some of the matters mentioned in section 1.2 are still developing. The position on them is as follows:
- there has been little change in the supply of contributory factors: in 2000, as in 1999, only two Scottish Police Forces provided any data. They cover about 10% of accidents in Scotland, so their information may not be representative of the whole country. (Members of the Group will recall that contributory factors are currently supplied voluntarily, as part of a trial of a proposed national system of recording them);
- the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) will publish an article on progress towards the casualty reduction targets for 2010 in Road Accidents Great Britain 2000; and
- DTLR has introduced improvements in the calculation of the national traffic estimates. While estimates at a local level are available for 2000, figures for earlier years are not available on a consistent basis. Therefore, it will be some months before estimates of changes in slight casualty rates at a local level can be produced, and used to construct an index value series for each local authority that would be suitable for publication. (Members of the Group will recall that, because of the uncertainty about the reliability of the estimates of the traffic volumes for local authorities, it is intended to publish in Road Accidents Scotland only the index values - not the estimated local casualty rates.)
1.5 Finally, Members of the Group should note that Road Accidents Scotland 2000 will show how the numbers of casualties of various types in 2000 compared with the target for that year of a fall of a third from the 1981-85 "baseline". That will complete the process of monitoring and reporting on changes in casualty numbers from the 1981-85 baseline levels. Therefore, Road Accidents Scotland 2000 will be the last edition to provide such figures, and Road Accidents Scotland 2001 will be the first edition for many years not to contain such information. It follows that many of the tables and text will have to be changed for Road Accidents Scotland 2001 - so this is a good time to start to review its content, before what could become the pattern for the next ten years' editions is set. Transport Statistics can survey users of the publication by including a questionnaire (and a reply-paid envelope) with Road Accidents Scotland 2000. The questionnaire will invite comments on proposals for changes (based on those set out in this paper, but revised in the light of the views expressed by Members of the Group) and invite other suggestions.
2. Road Accidents Scotland 2000
2.1 Road Accidents Scotland 2000 will be published in November. The following changes will be made:
- a four page section on progress towards the casualty reduction targets for 2010 will be added. This will provide the overall figures for the new targets, and some figures for the main road user types, for Scotland as a whole. It will include charts showing how the overall figures are moving in relation to the targets for reductions by 2010. (NB: the main commentary will compare the figures for 2000 with the 1981-85 baseline, and not refer to the targets for 2010, as it could be confusing to compare the 2000 figures with both the 1994-98 averages and the 1981-85 figures);
- a new summary table will provide the total numbers of accidents and casualties, by severity, for each council area for 2000; and
- the description of the changes made to the "STATS 19" system in 1999, and the codelists for the new and modified variables, will be omitted: readers will be referred to pages 146 to 153 of Road Accidents Scotland 1999.
2.2 Overall slight casualty rates for local authority areas will not be published because, as indicated earlier, it will be some time before DTLR will be able to produce the estimates of the total traffic volumes for local authority areas that are required as the denominators. Unless the Group requests otherwise, it is not intended to include any figures on contributory factors.
2.3 Members of the Group are invited to comment upon the above proposals. As the draft publication must be finalised soon, Transport Statistics cannot make extensive changes to it. However, we could add one or two new tables, or modify one or two existing tables, if Members of the Group feel that that would produce worthwhile improvements.
3. Road Accidents Scotland 2001
3.1 Road Accidents Scotland 2001 will be published in Autumn 2002. A number of changes are proposed. On the matters mentioned in section 1.2 which are still developing:
- it is envisaged that the main commentary would incorporate points about progress towards the targets for 2010, in a way which would be similar to that in which the commentary in previous editions reported on progress towards the targets for 2000. Therefore, there would not be a separate "report on progress" section: for example, charts on progress towards the targets for 2010 will replace the charts on progress towards the targets for 2000 that appeared in Road Accidents Scotland 1999;
- it is expected that overall slight casualty rates for local authority areas will be included, in index form, for 1994-98 (average), 1999, 2000 and 2001 in Table 44, assuming that DTLR provides the estimates of the total traffic volumes for local authority areas that are required as the denominators for the slight casualty rates; and
- unless the Group advises otherwise, it is not intended to include any figures on contributory factors.
3.2 In addition, extensive changes will be required to many of the tables and charts, because there will no longer be any need to provide any 1981-85 averages, and because 1994-98 averages will have to be included in some tables and charts. The Annex lists all the tables in Road Accidents Scotland 1999, and indicates how each of them might be changed for Road Accidents Scotland 2001. (NB: for simplicity, the list does not include the routine updating of the years covered by a table, etc). A number of points should be noted about the proposals in the Annex, and these are discussed in subsequent sections.
3.3 Inclusion of "baseline period" averages
3.3.1 The list of proposed changes does not mention one "general" change: the replacement of the 1981-85 averages by the 1994-98 averages, as 1994-98 is the baseline period for the new targets for 2010. It is proposed that all the 1981-85 averages would be replaced by 1994-98 averages (unless indicated otherwise under "suggested changes").
3.3.2 It could be argued that there is no need to show any 1994-98 averages in some cases, because the targets for 2010 are solely for reductions in:
(a) the total number of people killed or seriously injured;
(b) the total number of children killed or seriously injured;
(c) the slight casualty rate (the number of slight casualties per 100 million vehicle kilometres).
So, for example, it could be argued that there is no need to show the 1994-98 averages for the numbers of accidents, the numbers of vehicles, or the number of slight casualties, since there are no targets for reductions in these numbers. However, it is assumed that some users of Road Accidents Scotland will find it helpful to have the 1994-98 averages for more than just the statistics specified in the targets for 2010, in order that they can see how certain other categories or components have changed relative to the baseline.
3.4 Averages for the latest five years
In some cases, it is suggested that the averages for the latest five years be dropped from a table, in order to simplify it, because the figures in the table are, in general, large and therefore should not be affected greatly by year-to-year fluctuations. There are also cases where it is suggested that the latest five year averages be added to a table with many "small" numbers that could be subject to quite large percentage year-to-year fluctuations.
3.5.1 Many tables are accompanied by a chart. The chart associated with a table would be dropped automatically if the table were dropped.
3.5.2 In cases where a chart does not appear to show anything that a reader cannot get easily from the numbers in the table, it is suggested that the chart be dropped (the table itself would be kept). Then, each section would be reordered, with blank pages inserted where necessary, so that the remaining charts would appear on the pages which faced their tables.
3.6 Other possible new tables and charts
The list does not include proposals for any new tables and charts that may be included in Road Accidents Scotland 2001. Suggestions for new tables and charts would be welcomed, on the understanding that there can be no guarantee that any new tables that are requested by members of the Group will be produced: it will depend upon the resources and the space available .
3.7 Other points
3.7.1 This review is just of the content of Road Accidents Scotland: it does not cover possible new means of electronic dissemination of road accident statistics.
3.7.2 Members of the Group may wish to note that Road Accidents Scotland tables and anonymised copies of individual records are available electronically at present:
- the publication appears on the Scottish Executive web site - go to:
and click on the bar, in the middle of the screen, which is labelled "Transport….". You will then see a list of publications: just pick the one you want. You can "cut and paste" figures from tables that are of interest to you.
- DTLR sends a copy of the GB-wide database (with a few variables omitted) to the UK Data Archive.
3.7.3 In addition, the 2002 Quality Review may consider new ways of making the road accident statistics information available. Therefore, the review described in this paper relates solely to the Road Accidents Scotland publication.
Members of the Group are invited to comment on the above proposals and to suggest any improvements which they would like to see made for Road Accidents Scotland 2001. Transport Statistics will then use the revised proposals in a survey of users of the publication .