A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
How safety statistics are prepared and published needs attention. We need to acknowledge the negatives but highlight progress that has been made and focus on solutions and opportunities. There is a need to improve understanding of safety issues and gain clearer direction regarding where interventions will work best. In particular, long term trends need including.
There is a need for easy to access and clear information about safety progress via statistical publications. The Government used to provide this via the Road Casualties Great Britain (RCGB) annual series and via an annual compendium of motorcycle statistics. However, the compendium has been dropped by the DfT and the latest edition of RCGB does not provide an easily accessible overview of motorcycle safety statistics.
This means that a knowledge deficiency is emerging. This works against efforts to reduce casualties.
The presentation of statistics also needs attention. MCIA/NPCC have noted a tendency in the past to present motorcycle and scooter safety statistics in a light that can be interpreted as having an over emphasis on negative stats within a particular series – even if other indicators, such as casualty rates, are broadly positive. This can have the effect of creating an overt sense of negativity when in fact the overall picture is far more complex. This tendency has not been noted in the presentation of cycling safety statistics, for example.
There is also a need for longer term trends to be incorporated into the stats. This will allow proper context and avoid a tendency for inappropriate comment or proposals which can arise when only short term figures are used.
Historically UK road safety statistics for motorcycling are presented with little or no context. This is not exclusively the case for motorcycles as cycling groups have also expressed dissatisfaction in this area. However, third parties are usually more willing to provide the context where relevant for cycling.
A key issue for the presentation of statistics is the focus on Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI). From a statistician’s point of view, this is useful and reliable data. Death is usually not disputed. The definition for serious injuries hasn’t changed much over the years and is usually defined as a ‘life changing event’ requiring hospitalisation. It is also relatively straightforward to build assumptions and costs into any model. However, this highlights the difference between what makes straightforward and comparable data to a statistician and how those same terms would be interpreted by the general public and some policymakers.
Firstly, the term ‘seriously injured’ in National Statistics terms may include everything from full body paralysis to temporary impairment from soft-tissue damage (eg a bad sprain which may require an x-ray). Either may change the individual’s daily routine, but one is clearly more significant than the other. In fact, such a broad definition beggars the question as to what is covered by the term ‘slight injury’. However, as far as the general public are concerned, the term ‘serious injury’ indicates some kind of permanent and disabling injury. To put this in context, as far as public discourse is concerned, the few thousand serious injuries reported to police each year would be interpreted as meaning that scores of people are losing limbs every week. This is simply not the case.
Secondly, the grouping of killed and seriously injured together may create more significant data in terms of analysis, especially on a local level where numbers of casualties are often very small, but it does further give rise to the impression that the few thousands that are injured or killed are suffering either near fatal or fatal injuries when this is not the case. Psychologically speaking the word ‘KILLED’ leaps out in the eyes of the casual observer, or media reporting, giving the KSI figures a more serious implication than in many instances is the case.
- The reintroduction by DfT of the yearly compendium of motorcycle statistics
- Amend RCGB to provide an easily accessible overview of motorcycle safety statistics
- Discussions with DfT Stats Division about future presentation of the casualty statistics within RCGB
- Dialogue with the Transport Statistics Working Group about the issue
- Amend the way statistics are presented to separate KSIs
UPDATE – Action 5 – To Ensure Safety Statistics Provide a Full Picture for Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Work
There is currently no progress regarding this action.