Recently there has been an increased interest in traffic safety in Poland. There is a feeling that the rapid growth of traffic should be accompanied by additional efforts to improve traffic safety, in order to stop the corresponding increase in fatalities and serious accidents. To set realistic safety targets, it is important to have some idea of the expected safety trends, if no extra measures are taken. In this study the developments of traffic and traffic safety are investigated and forecasts are made. This is done by extrapolation of smoothed trends (preliminary analysis) and by applying models that proved to be useful in the past for the description of safety developments in developed countries. The underlying assumption of these models is that the outcome of safety trends in terms of accidents, casualties and fatalities is the product of two more basic developments. These basic developments are the trends in traffic growth, measured by the growth of the car park and the use of cars, and the risk of having a(n) (serious) accident per travelled kilometre. If there is a strong increase in traffic, risk increases as well, and as a result the influence of accidents on safety trends will be considerable. Extra safety measures are then necessary to reduce the risk and consequently the number of accidents. Society seems to work this way: unexpected increases in traffic are usually followed, with some delay, by extra safety measures, resulting in stronger decreases of risk in order to annihilate negative safety effects. Estimates based on the period from 1990 to 1998, compared to estimates based on the period from 1980 onwards, show that such a change did indeed occur in Poland. Because the series of available data is relatively short and the development of traffic and safety in Poland shows large fluctuations, forecasts will not be very reliable and only indications can be given. From the preliminary analysis it follows that, if the considerable increase in traffic continues, acorresponding increase is to be expected for the number of fatalities. Asimilar effect was noticeable around 1991. Forecasts based on the model assumptions show for the near future a more rapid decrease in risk than before. The result of this will be that, in the near future, the number of fatalities will decrease as well. A more rapid decrease in risk, than observed over the period from 1980 to 1998, however, is only possible if the intended additional safety programmes are actually implemented. Continuous monitoring of traffic and safety trends is necessary to detect deviations from trends. The outcomes can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of safety programmes and the extent to which the safety targets will be reached.
Traffic safety developments in Poland
A research note
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