Road safety research project commences in North East Scotland

Lucy Johnston2023, News

A nationally-funded road safety research project is now underway in North East Scotland, with its key focus to identify the reasons behind the significant reduction in road traffic collisions and casualties during the ten-year-period 2011 to 2020.

The three local authorities in North East Scotland – Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray – have all experienced major reductions over this period, however, the relative contributions of various factors behind the falls remain unclear.

Between 2011 to 2020, the three combined areas saw a 79% reduction in the number of reported injury road traffic collisions, with a 76% reduction in reported road casualties.

While COVID-19 related restrictions had an impact on 2020 totals, the statistical pattern prior to this final year reveal significant reductions year-on-year and it is this sustained period of fewer collisions and casualties which has interested road safety professionals locally.

As part of an annual bidding process in 2022, Road Safety North East Scotland secured a grant of £24,809 from Transport Scotland’s Road Safety Evaluation Fund to undertake the research under the title – ‘Safety in Numbers: an investigation into reductions in road traffic collisions and casualties across North East Scotland between 2011-2020.’

It is understood to be the only research of its kind being undertaken in Scotland and while the emphasis will be on the north-east, the results may have wider road safety related implications.

The research will include analysis of statistical collision and casualty data; engagement with north-east road users and road safety professionals; and analysis of relevant policy and road safety campaigns with an anticipated completion date around June 2023.  A final report will be produced for Transport Scotland with the hope that any learning obtained can be used to further reduce road casualties and collisions – both locally and nationally.

Commenting on the research, Rab Dickson, Director at Nestrans and Chair of Road Safety North East Scotland, said: “We are delighted to once again be working with Robert Gordon University who are supporting us by undertaking this important research.

“The road collision and casualty reductions experienced locally over the 2011–2020 period were significant yet we remain unclear about why they have occurred. We can speculate over the causes citing issues such as road improvements, safer vehicles, road safety campaigns and changes in road user attitudes and behaviours, however the fact remains that we cannot confidently attribute the reductions to specific causal factors.”

Caroline Hood, Lecturer in Sociology at Robert Gordon University, added: “Members of the public are a key component of our research and we look forward to hearing from north east residents through our online survey. This will complement data gathered from road safety professionals in the region and provide valuable information on the experiences of road users in the North East of Scotland and further inform our research.”

The survey can be accessed via: https://robertgordonuniversity.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/safety-in-numbers-public-questionnaire