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Accid Anal Prev. 2004 Sep;36(5):841-9.

To what extent can theory account for the findings of road safety evaluation studies?

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1
Institute of Transport Economics, PO Box 6110 Etterstad, N-0602 Oslo, Norway. rune.elvik@toi.no

Abstract

This paper proposes a conceptual framework that can be used to assess to what extent the findings of road safety evaluation research make sense from a theoretical point of view. The effects of road safety measures are modelled as passing through two causal chains. One of these, termed the engineering effect, refers to the intended effects of a road safety measure on a set of risk factors related to accident occurrence or injury severity. The engineering effect of road safety measures is modelled in terms of nine basic risk factors, one or more of which any road safety measure needs to influence in order to have the intended effect on accidents or injuries. The other causal chain producing the effects of road safety measures is termed the behavioural effect, and refers to road user behavioural adaptations to road safety measures. The behavioural effect is related to the engineering effect, in the sense that certain properties of the engineering effect of a road safety measure influence the likelihood that behavioural adaptation will occur. The behavioural effect of a road safety measure is modelled in terms of six factors that influence the likelihood that behavioural adaptation will occur. The nine basic risk factors representing the engineering effect of a road safety measure, and the six factors influencing the likelihood of behavioural adaptation can be used as checklists in assessing whether or not the findings of road safety evaluation studies make sense from a theoretical point of view. At the current state of knowledge, a more stringent evaluation of the extent to which theory can explain the findings of road safety evaluation studies is, in most cases, not possible.

PMID:
15203361
DOI:
10.1016/j.aap.2003.08.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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