Frequently Asked Questions

Elected Councillors and Members of Parliament 3 questions
  • How can I find out which are the most dangerous roads in my area?

    Local government is the main delivery agent of road safety. Local authorities have a statutory duty under section
    39 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act to “take steps both to reduce and prevent accidents”.  Specifically:

    39 (3) Each local authority –
    [a] must carry out studies into accidents arising out of the use of vehicles on roads or part of roads, other
    than trunk roads, within their area,

    (You can find out more about responsibilities in this guide by RoSPA)

    As well as any analysis undertaken by local authority professionals, independent analysis is often carried out which includes the annual EuroRAP risk assessment. 

    Minor roads not included within this assessment may be subject to local analysis using similar techniques which take into account road length or road traffic. Many authorities will undertake a simple ‘cluster analysis’ that seeks to identify areas where collisions are occurring in close proximity, usually near junctions.

    You can also use tools such as Crashmap to browse the published collision records for any road.

  • Can I look at road safety data for a single constituency?

    The Department for Transport have a data download tool that allows users to export information at a constituency level. A more interactive resource including maps and charts is the PACTS Constituency Dashboard.

  • Can I find data about recorded offences?

    The Ministry of Justice releases a spreadsheet each year including summary data of all motoring offences . This was most recently updated in May 2021 for the year 2020 but only includes data by police force, not a local authority area or a constituency, unless the boundaries match exactly.

    Many road safety partnerships and police forces will publish their own data, often breaking down offences for individual speed cameras for example.

    You can also review contributory factor information for collisions via the annual DfT publications. These will often link to a specific offence e.g. ‘Exceeding the speed limit’.

Independent analysts 3 questions
  • Where can I download raw collision data?

    The article on Crash Locations provides information on where you can download official, record-level data. Be aware that certain data fields will not be included if they are personal in nature (vehicle registrations), or sensitive (contributory factors). For many people, simply accessing summary data using the customisable DfT data download tool is sufficient.

    Local authorities and police forces will often release this data on request subject to local polices on disclosure, GDPR, FoI and other considerations. This may include other information about a collision that does not form part of the official statistics including a narrative description of the collision.

    If you are a data scientist you can use the ‘STATS-19’ R package for working with open road traffic casualty data from Great Britain.

  • Can I find data about recorded offences?

    The Ministry of Justice releases a spreadsheet each year including summary data of all motoring offences . This was most recently updated in May 2021 for the year 2020 but only includes data by police force, not a local authority area or a constituency, unless the boundaries match exactly.

    Many road safety partnerships and police forces will publish their own data, often breaking down offences for individual speed cameras for example.

    You can also review contributory factor information for collisions via the annual DfT publications. These will often link to a specific offence e.g. ‘Exceeding the speed limit’.

  • What free tools can I use to work with raw data?

    QGIS is free mapping software which can map co-ordinates of crashes from downloaded tables. All DfT tables can be accessed using CSV files can be opened in Apache OpenOffice, which is free.

Journalists 4 questions
  • Where can I download raw collision data?

    The article on Crash Locations provides information on where you can download official, record-level data. Be aware that certain data fields will not be included if they are personal in nature (vehicle registrations), or sensitive (contributory factors). For many people, simply accessing summary data using the customisable DfT data download tool is sufficient.

    Local authorities and police forces will often release this data on request subject to local polices on disclosure, GDPR, FoI and other considerations. This may include other information about a collision that does not form part of the official statistics including a narrative description of the collision.

    If you are a data scientist you can use the ‘STATS-19’ R package for working with open road traffic casualty data from Great Britain.

  • How should I describe collisions and the data collected?

    There is an excellent, short report on media reporting guidelines for road collisions which has been informed by a number of NGOs and professional organisations. It clearly sets out the type of language that should be used and why the term ‘accident’ should be avoided. Use of the term ‘crash’ or ‘collision’ is often left to personal preference.

    The central dataset uses information collected by police officers attending the scene of a collision and does not reflect any in-depth investigation that may subsequently take place. This means that any emerging evidence will not be reflected in the official statistics. The instructions for completing collision record forms are complex with police officers requiring training before undertaking the task.

    Collision records do not seek to apportion blame of fault, although contributory factors may be recorded.

  • How can I find out which areas or roads have the worst safety records?

    Simply counting the number of collisions along a road or in a specific area then sorting from highest to lowest is not an analysis of relative risk or frequency. Consideration must be given to length of road or the level of traffic for example; a road with double the number of collisions of another, but that is twice as long, or has twice the traffic will have exactly that same risk rate. The same applies when comparing areas that are very different in terms of population or road length.

    Fortunately there are well-established methods for carrying out this analysis and there are published results that seek to answer some of the more common questions. 

    The Road Safety Foundation analyse all major roads in Great Britain each year and produce an analysis of those that are ‘significantly improved’ or remain ‘high risk’.  The EuroRAP risk assessment dashboard contains their results.

    In 2021 a GB Road Safety Index was produced comparing the performance of local authorities and police forces across Great Britain. This analysis allowed for complex reporting changes and looked at long-term trends to assessed which areas had the most significant changes in collision numbers, as well as comparing rates.

     

  • Can I find data about recorded offences?

    The Ministry of Justice releases a spreadsheet each year including summary data of all motoring offences . This was most recently updated in May 2021 for the year 2020 but only includes data by police force, not a local authority area or a constituency, unless the boundaries match exactly.

    Many road safety partnerships and police forces will publish their own data, often breaking down offences for individual speed cameras for example.

    You can also review contributory factor information for collisions via the annual DfT publications. These will often link to a specific offence e.g. ‘Exceeding the speed limit’.

Members of the public 1 question
Road safety professionals 3 questions
  • Where can I download raw collision data?

    The article on Crash Locations provides information on where you can download official, record-level data. Be aware that certain data fields will not be included if they are personal in nature (vehicle registrations), or sensitive (contributory factors). For many people, simply accessing summary data using the customisable DfT data download tool is sufficient.

    Local authorities and police forces will often release this data on request subject to local polices on disclosure, GDPR, FoI and other considerations. This may include other information about a collision that does not form part of the official statistics including a narrative description of the collision.

    If you are a data scientist you can use the ‘STATS-19’ R package for working with open road traffic casualty data from Great Britain.

  • Why are numbers from my local dataset not exactly the same as national statistics?

    The Department for Transport are supplied with STATS19 collision data by police forces. Local authorities may quality check and amend these records and will routinely pass this to the DfT for revision. Sometimes this process may not take place, or changes may take place to local records a long time after the reporting year has closed (DfT operate STATS19 as a closed dataset and do not routinely allow retrospective changes, this is not the case in Scotland).

  • How can I get in touch with other professional analysts?

    This website it dedicated to effective professional networking between those who undertake collision and casualty analysis. Visit the home page to register for membership.

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