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Editorial

Preventing Road Deaths—Time for Data

  • Published: March 30, 2010
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000257

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Industry Found that Timely and Meaningful Data Is Important

Posted by SaferVehicleUse on 21 Apr 2010 at 04:50 GMT

Some thirty or so years ago, management at major industrial worksites were sufficiently disappointed with the poor results of traditional workplace safety programs – lives lost, people disabled and disfigured for their remaining life, equipment damaged, environmental harm, product quality and quantity losses, reputations ruined, and so on – that they were motivated to make significant changes in how work was done. Lost time injury rates at many construction sites and operating facilities are now less than ten percent of the prior rates.

Although the improved workplace safety programs were more expensive to operate, management typically found that the subsequent reduction in worker compensation costs alone resulted in a net cost savings per employee. Improved productivity, reduced downtime, more reliable worker supply, etc., were further bonuses.

One of the important changes that led to the improvement in workplace safety was to provide workers with timely and meaningful results about their safety performance. When I look at the road traffic safety data that government agencies provide, it is very similar to the workplace safety data of thirty or more years ago in that it means something to the authorities but relatively nothing to the workers. Consequently, it is not surprising to read about the relatively poor progress in road use safety improvement despite the resources invested in safer roads, safer vehicles, and whatever.

It doesn’t take much additional effort to obtain data that will engage road users in improving their safety performance. If you are able to do so, you will find, like industry did, that the payback is very attractive.

No competing interests declared.