Economic Evaluation of Road Traffic Safety Measures

European Conference of Ministers of Transport

In economic appraisals of road safety measures, determining which method to use for the valuation of those measures is a problem. There are two methods open to us. Remarkably, one accurately measures a non-relevant concept (the human capital method), while the other measures the correct parameter, but not very accurately (the willingness-to-pay method). The Round Table examined the many complementary aspects of the two and found that what was needed, above all, were practical guides for each method. The Round Table noted that values for human life are highly comparable from one mode of transport to another, concluding that this should encourage governments to take charge of safety with the same forcefulness whatever the mode of transport. It also found that spending on road safety was already adequate, but that the money was not 'wisely' spent. Arguably the proposals put forward by this Round Table were unconventional. For instance, it held that difficulties in producing major changes in driver behaviour signalled that more attention should be paid to educational measures and infrastructure investment. This publication reviews the road safety policies and their economic evaluation. At a time when the authorities in many countries are beginning to set still more ambitious targets for those policies, the Round Table highlights the need for measures that are effective over the long term and economically efficient.

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