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Road Accidents Scotland 2004

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Annex C
Consultation with Users and Providers of Road Accident Statistics, and Reviews of the "Stats 19" specification and the statistical publications

1. Introduction

This Annex describes briefly the arrangements for consulting the users and providers of the road accident statistics. It then gives some information about the reviews of the "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification and of the road accident statistics publications. Finally, it refers to some points on the changes to the "Stats 19" specifications implemented in 1999 and in 2005.

2. The Liaison Group on Road Accident Statistics ( LGRAS)

The Scottish Executive consults the Liaison Group on Road Accident Statistics ( LGRAS), whose members include representatives of each Police Force and of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), of some individual local authorities and of the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland, and of other types of user of the statistics, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Institute of Road Safety Officers in Scotland, a transport consultant, and an academic researcher. LGRAS meets, on average, once a year. It discusses matters such as the arrangements for the supply of the road accident statistics data, the quality of the information that is collected and the implications for the use of the data for certain purposes, the likely availability of other information, proposals for changes to the "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification, and improvements to the range of road accidents statistics which the Scottish Executive publishes or otherwise makes available.

Copies of the LGRAS papers are also sent to some other interested parties, including a contact in every local authority not represented on the Group and to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. In addition, the LGRAS papers and minutes (for 2000 onwards) are available on the Scottish Executive Web site, at the following address: www.scotland.gov.uk/transtat/lgras

Further information about LGRAS can be obtained from its Secretary, Ben McClory, whose contact details appear on page 2 of this publication.

3. The Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics ( SCRAS)

Users and providers of road accident statistics across Great Britain are consulted via the Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics ( SCRAS), which is chaired by the Department for Transport (DfT). Its members include representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Scottish Executive, and other interested parties from across Great Britain. SCRAS is responsible for reviewing the GB-wide "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification (see below), discusses other aspects of the collection and use of the road accident statistics, and produces occasional newsletters on road accident statistics matters.

Further information about SCRAS is available from Linden Francis of the DfT Road Accident Statistics branch (direct line: 020 7944 3078) and from the DfT Transport Statistics Web site - go to: www.dft.gov.uk/transtat/scras

4. Reviews of the "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification

Government statistical surveys are reviewed regularly to ensure that the information that they provide meets users' needs, and reduce the costs of data provision, if possible. The collection of road accident statistics is reviewed by the Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics ( SCRAS).

In 1997, SCRAS consulted many organisations about their ideas for improving the road accident statistics, and prepared proposals which responded to changes in the needs for data and which could be adopted without increasing costs significantly. The report of the 1997 Quinquennial Review was published by the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions as DETR Statistics Bulletin number (98) 14. The changes were implemented in 1999 - a note on them appears later.

The 2002 Quality Review of road accident statistics started in July 2001, when a "scoping paper" and questionnaires were sent to users and providers of road accident statistics across Great Britain. Those consulted were asked for their views on the matters that SCRAS felt that the review should address, and to suggest other possible improvements. The Scottish Executive distributed the paper and questionnaires to LGRAS members and to recipients of LGRAS papers. In October 2001, LGRAS discussed Scottish views, having seen the (anonymised) Scottish responses and a summary of the main points raised by respondents elsewhere. SCRAS and its working groups then considered all the suggestions for changes, and produced interim recommendations, which were discussed by LGRAS in June 2002. Subsequently, SCRAS and its working groups revised and developed further the proposals for changes. In Spring 2003, these were discussed by LGRAS and at a series of meetings in Wales and the regions of England. In the light of the comments made then, further work was required to finalise the details of the changes. The "Stats 19" and the "Stats 21" specifications (see Annex B) were sent to police forces and local authorities in December 2003. Subsequently, DfT made a few minor changes to the labelling of some of the "Stats 19" variables and code values, during the development of a standard paper form for recording details of road accidents which, we understand, will be used by almost all the police forces in England and Wales. The "Stats 20" detailed notes and definitions (see Annex B) were sent to police forces and local authorities at the start of November 2004. Copies of the list of changes, and the "Stats 19", "Stats 20" and "Stats 21" are available from the Scottish Executive Transport Statistics Web site see section 2 of Annex B. The changes arising from the 2002 Review were implemented at the start of 2005 - a note on them appears later.

5. Reviews of road accident statistics publications

"Road Accidents Scotland 2000" was the last edition to compare the latest figures with the 1981-85 average levels (the "baseline" for the casualty reduction target for 2000). "Road Accidents Scotland 2001" was the first edition to include instead the 1994-98 average levels (the "baseline" for the casualty reduction targets for 2010). Because many of the tables and charts had to be changed, the Scottish Executive reviewed the content of the publication before setting what could become the pattern for the next ten years' editions. In October 2001, the Scottish Executive consulted LGRAS about some possibilities. Readers of "Road Accidents Scotland 2000" were then asked, by means of a questionnaire enclosed with every copy, for their views on possible changes for the "2001" edition. The Scottish Executive revised its proposals to take account of the results of the survey. These revised proposals were discussed by LGRAS in June 2002. The Scottish Executive then finalised "Road Accidents Scotland 2001" in the light of the views expressed by LGRAS members.

In May 2002, as part of the Quality Review, DfT conducted a GB-wide survey of users of road accident statistics, to obtain views on, and suggestions for improvements to, the dissemination of, and access to, road accident statistics. Users were asked to comment on both the range of printed publications and the information which is (or could become) available electronically from Web sites and elsewhere. A number of points were made by Scottish respondents, and by Professor Richard Allsop (the external Assessor to the Review) in his report on this part of the Review. The Scottish Executive considered these points and, in May 2003, consulted LGRAS about the changes that it proposed to make in the light of them. LGRAS members were also asked if there were other changes that they would like made to the Scottish Executive's road accident statistics publications and to the information (such as the spreadsheet versions of the publications' tables) that would be made available on its Web site. The Scottish Executive then finalised the list of changes for "Road Accidents Scotland 2002" (and its plans for developing the information to be made available on its Web site) in the light of the views of the members of LGRAS. The Scottish Executive Web site was subsequently launched in 2003 and information on what it contains and how to access this is given in the section "The Scottish Executive Transport Statistics Web Pages" in this publication.

6. The changes to the "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification in 1999

The changes which were implemented in 1999 are described in "Road Accidents Scotland 1999", pages 146-151. Some new variables and codes were added, some of the existing variables and codes were modified, and some were deleted. The frequency of use of each code of each of the new and modified variables was shown on pages 152-153 of "Road Accidents Scotland 1999".

Two particular points should be noted about the changes made in 1999, because they have an effect on some of the figures published in this edition (the other changes are thought not to have any such implications).

Vehicle type: coding of motor caravans

The vehicle type code formerly used for 'Minibus/motor caravan' (code 10) was changed:

  • Minibus: the "code 10" category now covers only minibuses;
  • Motor caravans are not identified as a separate category - they are now included with 'Other motor vehicles' (code 14).

As a result, the figures for the categories described in the tables as "minibus" and "other" are on different bases for (a) 1998 and earlier years and (b) 1999 and later years. The scale of the discontinuity is not known, because motor caravans have not been identified separately in the statistical returns. However, it is likely that the change in the way in which motor caravans are recorded in "Stats 19" has contributed to the fall in the "minibus" figures between 1998 and 1999, and the rise in the "other" figures.

Driver and casualty postcodes, and estimated distances between homes and the locations of accidents

Postcodes were added to the "Stats 19" returns in 1999. It was accepted that their collection would have to be phased in, as they became readily available from police administrative systems. Indeed, the "Stats 20" instructions state "if the postcode is not immediately available, leave blank". As a result, blank (or the "not known" code) is used more often than should be the case in future. There are also codes for non- UK residents and for parked and unattended vehicles.

The "straight line" (or "as the crow flies") distance between the location of the accident and the home of a driver, rider or casualty was estimated using the postcode of the person's home. The grid co-ordinates of the "centre" of the postcode were obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland's "postcode directory" file. These were taken as an approximation to the grid co-ordinates of the person's home, and used in conjunction with the grid co-ordinates of the location of the accident (as reported by the police) to estimate the distance. A similar approach was used in the small proportion of cases where there was only the start of a postcode (eg the police might record "EH10" if they knew that someone lived in Edinburgh 10, but they could not provide the full postcode) or where only the postal district or postcode sector could be matched with the postcode directory. A distance could not be estimated if the postcode were blank, coded "not known" or "non- UK resident", did not contain a valid postal district, or were for a place outwith Scotland.

7. The changes to the "Stats 19" road accident statistics specification in 2005

The changes which were implemented at the start of 2005 will be described in more detail in "Road Accidents Scotland 2005". The main changes were the introduction of several new variables:

  • contributory factors - these identify the key actions and failures that were thought to have contributed to the occurrence of the accident, in the opinion of the reporting officer at the time the report was made;
  • journey purpose of the driver/rider;
  • pedestrian injuries in the course of 'on the road' work; and
  • foreign registered variable.

In addition, there were several modifications to existing variables (such as changes to a few of the codes for "type of vehicle") and "part(s) damaged" and "vehicle location at the time of accident - road" were deleted.

Full details of the changes made at the start of 2005 are available from the Scottish Executive Transport Statistics Web site (see section 2 of Annex B).

The codes which appear under some of the variables in Annex F

Annex F lists the frequency of use of the values of most of the "Stats 19" variables in 2004. In some cases, it provides figures for categories which were introduced in 2005. It does so because the Scottish Executive's road accident statistics database was converted to the new "Stats 19" data specification before the tables in this publication were produced. The conversion changed some of the code values for a few of the "Stats 19" variables, in those cases where one could determine a new code value from information which had been recorded in terms of the old codes.

The conversion process was straightforward in cases where only one new code corresponded to any particular old code (or combination of old codes). For example, with effect from the start of 2005, the old "Road Type" codes "3" ("dual carriageway - 2 lanes") and "4" ("dual carriageway - 3 or more lanes") were replaced by a single new code 3 ("dual carriageway"). In this case, the conversion process simply allocated a new code value of "3" whenever the old code value was either "3" or "4".

However, it was impossible for the conversion process to produce perfectly correct results in some cases. For example, with effect from the start of 2005, the old "Type of Vehicle" code "04" ("motorcycle over 125 cc") was replaced by two new codes ("04" - "motorcycle over 125 cc and up to 500 cc" and "05" - "motorcycle over 500 cc"). In such a case, one cannot derive the correct "2005" code for every motorcycle involved in an accident in an earlier year, because one does not know the capacities of motorcycles which had been classified as "over 125 cc". The best that one can do in such cases is to allocate whichever of the new code values is the more likely to be correct. DfT's vehicle licensing statistics show many more motorcycles "over 500 cc" than "over 125 cc and up to 500 cc". Therefore, the conversion process allocated a new code value of "05" ( i.e. "over 500 cc") whenever the old code value was "04". As a result, Annex F shows 733 motorcycles "over 500 cc". Annex F also shows a few motorcycles "over 125 cc to 500 cc" - these will be from late returns/corrections, submitted in the "2005" data format, which were processed after the database was converted. It follows that the figures shown for 2004 for "over 125 cc to 500 cc" and "over 500 cc" are both very unreliable ( but their total is reliable). In Annex F, "#" identifies categories for which the figures will be unreliable because of the limitations of the conversion process.