P. Kopelias, E. Misokefalou, A. Tsantsanoglou

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Pages: 121-134

The level of road safety of an entity (country, region, road etc.) is estimated using the number of accidents, as well as the rates that take into account the amount of exposure. Despite the interest in studying the relationship between economy and road safety, the lack of data regarding traffic volume or vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) leads the researchers to use, as risk factors, other values which have an indirect association with traffic, like fuel consumption, GDP, household expenditure and number of vehicles. In Greece, the lack of traffic data, as a reliable and comparable exposure measure relevant to road safety, is a significant problem for researchers, as well as for decision-makers, when they try to estimate the road safety level in the country. This paper correlates economic conditions and road accident facts in the recession period of 2010 to 2013 and uses economic factors as an indicator of exposure, in order to evaluate the road safety level in the country during these years. A comparison between changes in the absolute number of accidents and rates produced from economic factors shows significant differences in the degree of improvement of road safety level in recent years. Specifically, the absolute numbers show a reduction of 31.4% in fatal accidents and 20.2% in total accidents (fatal, serious/light injuries) from 2010 to 2013, but the rates related to economic factors and consumer behavior give a less optimistic view of improvement, with a 2.1 to 3.2 times smaller reduction in fatal accidents and, in some cases, an increase of the rate of total accidents. According to these, the conclusion is that single indicators (and especially the number of accidents) have limited reliability, while the reduction is mainly an effect of traffic volume reduction or other circumstances and not a result of road safety measures. Also, a future development of the economy may lead to a significant deterioration of road safety level. This can serve as a warning message to policy makers, so as to prepare and implement an effective cost action plan to prevent a backward in road safety level.

Keywords: road safety indicator; economic factors; exposure; fuel consumption; economic crisis

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