Department for Transport: Road Safety Research Programme

Programme details

DfT Road Safety

Department for Transport: Road Safety Research Programme
United Kingdom
Programme type: Funding programme
Origin: National (United Kingdom)
Duration: 1998 - Ongoing
  • Outline
  • Funding
  • Projects
  • Contact
Background & policy context: 

Research commissioned within the Road Safety research programme provides support for the UK Government policy of meeting the national road casualty reduction targets for 2010, as set out in the UK's Road Safety Strategy. Compared with the average for 1994-98, the targets are: 40% reduction in killed and seriously injured; 50% reduction in children killed and seriously injured; and 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate per km travelled.

Road Safety Research is commissioned by the UK government:

  • To inform Ministerial decisions;
  • To guide the execution of policy;
  • To address issues on which Ministers may need to take decisions in the future;
  • To monitor the achievement of policy goals; and
  • To improve information disseminated by the Government.

The programme of research is funded publicly because that is the only way to ensure that the information required for the above purposes is available and based on sound, objective, unbiased research.

The type of research required in this area is not supported by research Councils, which focus on basic science objectives, or commissioned by Local Authorities, which understandably restrict their research to local objectives. It is therefore the responsibility of Central Government, and in this case of DfT, to fund this programme of research. Most of the funding is provided through the Division's research budget, but some research is carried out in collaboration with other organisations.

The research programme is organised into seven sub-programmes each of which has a specific objective.

Strategic Objectives: 

Research is concerned with meeting the UK's road casualty reduction targets. In order to meet this primary objective, research is commissioned:

  • To analyse and understand the factors which contribute to accident causation;
  • To develop and evaluate measures to reduce the number of accidents and casualty severity;
  • To monitor the effects of road safety policy.
Programme organisation: 

The transport policy context is indicated by the programme's 7 sub-themes:


  • Vulnerable Road Users: This theme covers research on pedestrians, cyclists and children. Whilst the overall GB road safety record is the best in the EU, performance on pedestrian safety is only average, and accident rates for child pedestrians are higher than in most other EU countries.
  • Driver and Rider Behaviour: Projects in this theme cover research on driver behaviour, driver training and testing and on the development of novice driver skills. They also cover research on motorcycle safety, including rider behaviour and training. The objectives include to investigate the factors which contribute to the higher accident rates of riders and novice drivers, to review current training and testing practice, and to make recommendations for change to driver and rider training and testing to ensure that new drivers and riders are prepared for driving in today’s conditions. Research is also investigating unlawful driving behaviour and an evaluation of the effectiveness of driver improvement courses, and the factors that influence effectiveness, is also being undertaken.
  • Impairment: This theme is primarily concerned with drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, drugs (illicit or medicinal) or fatigue, and ways of reducing the problems through enforcement and publicity. Attention is also being given to the influence of alcohol on pedestrian accidents, and to the problems of older road users.
  • Road Engineering and Speed Management: These projects address the contribution of speed to accident risk and the ways in which the enforcement of speed limits and road safety engineering measures can reduce casualties most effectively. 
  • Statistical Analysis, Accident Causation and Policy Monitoring: Projects in this theme include statistical surveys and analysis of existing data; in-depth investigation of road traffic accidents; research into the factors which contribute to accidents and development of countermeasures to reduce casualties. They also include research into the effectiveness of policy measures.
  • Medical Aspects of Fitness to Drive: Pre-existing ill health makes only a relatively small contribution to road accidents. However declaration or assessment of medical fitness is part of the licensing process and advice from clinicians informs drivers on whether they can safely drive. This programme aims to improve the quality of evidence underlying bot
Leading Institutions:

Public institution

UK Government: Department for Transport
Type of funding: 
Public (national/regional/local)
Programme funding arrangements and funding conditions: 

Funding is for DfT road safety research is ongoing and funded by the UK government.

Programme budget 2003-4: £4.6 million (excl. VAT)

Participating countries: 
United Kingdom
Total number of projects: 


Projects covered: 

Some examples of recently completed projects (all from the vulnerable road user theme):

  • Provision of Road Safety Education in England and Wales
  • Computer-based Child Pedestrian Training
  • Review of Road Safety Education Linked Database (Rosalind)
  • Training for Children Transferring from Primary to Secondary School
Project Profiles:
  1. A Road Safety Good Practice Guide - Review of User Views (S401J)(O)
  2. Accident Causation and Outcome Studies II (S201T)(O)
  3. Accidents at Junctions on One-way Urban Roads (S205N)
  4. Alcohol and Adult Pedestrians
  5. Analysis of Borderline Blood Samples (S301D)(O)
  6. Analysis of Evidential Blood Alcohol Samples for Drugs (S219Q)(O)
  7. Antidepressants and Road Safety: A Literature Review and Commentary (S219S)
  8. Assessing the Casualty Reduction Performance of Local Highway Authorities (S401G)(O)
  9. Central Scotoma and Driving (S601J)(O)
  10. Child Development and Road Safety Education Research Programme: Phase III: the Role of Skills, Attitudes and Perceived Behavioural Control in Adolescent Pedestrian Decision-making (S101A, c)(O)
  11. Child Development II - Bringing Children into Social Contract of Road Use (S214G, c)
  12. Child Development Phase III - Adolescent Programme (S101A, b)(O)
  13. Child Development Research Programme - Phase III: Pedestrian Road Safety in Early Adolescence (9-15 year olds) (S101A, a)
  14. Child Pedestrian Exposure and Accidents Further Analyses (S101E)(O)
  15. Child Road Safety in Rural Areas
  16. Cognitive Impairment: Phase I (S601HA)
  17. Cohort Study of Learner and Novice Drivers
  18. Company Vehicle Accident Recording - Phase II (S501H)
  19. Computer-Based Child Pedestrian Training
  20. Congestion and Accident Risk (S203P)
  21. Cycle Helmets - A Review of Their Efficacy
  22. Cycle Helmets - Phase IV (S101I)(O)
  23. Cycle Helmets Wearing Rates III (S210F)
  24. Delivery of Road Safety Education 1 - Teachers (T101E)
  25. Delivery of Road Safety Education 2 - Road Safety Officers (RSOs) (T101G)
  26. Developing Safety Measures for Trial (Phase II) (S203K)(O)
  27. Development and Evaluation of Work-related Road Safety Information Packs (T201D)
  28. Development and Implementation of a Cost Recovery System for Speed and Red-light Cameras (S240F)
  29. Development of a Simplified System of Making Speed Limits (S401E)(O)
  30. Development of a Speed Management Assessment Framework (S401K)(O)
  31. Driver Fatigue-related Accidents and Countermeasures (S231C)
  32. Driver Fatigue: Review of Countermeasures (S219T)
  33. Drug Risk in High Risk Offenders (T301A)
  34. Effectiveness of Motorway Service Areas in Reducing Driver Sleepiness Accidents (S301M)
  35. Effects of Road Engineering Modifications On Child Pedestrian Skills Development
  36. Evaluation Methods in Road Safety Education (S224E)(O)
  37. Evaluation of Commercial Driver Risk (S231B)
  38. Evaluation of Hazard Perception Testing (S213S)
  39. Evaluation of National Pilot Child Pedestrian Schemes (S101B)(O)
  40. Evaluation of the DSA Driver’s Record (T201B)
  41. Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Driver Improvement Schemes (S501C)(O)
  42. Evaluation of the Working of the 1991 Road Traffic Act (S231D)(O)
  43. Expert Consensus Workshop on the Driving Correlates of Ischaemic Cardiac Diseases (T601A)
  44. Feasibility Study for National Accident Database (S224H)
  45. Further Road Audits (S219V)(O)
  46. In-depth Accident Causation Study of Young Drivers (S201V)
  47. In-depth Study of Motorcycle and Work-related Accidents (S501A)(O)
  48. In-depth Study of Motorcycle Training (S201G)
  49. Insulin-treated Diabetes and Driving Commercial Vehicles (S601A)(O)
  50. International Review of Driver Improvement Schemes (S501D)(O)
  51. International Review of Driver Training (T201C)
  52. International Survey of Child Road Safety (S101J)(O)
  53. Junction Improvements For Vulnerable Road Users
  54. Local Safety Scheme Monitoring (S204P)
  55. Local Transport Plan Scheme Monitoring (S240S)(O)
  56. Longitudinal Examination of Visual Function in Relation to Driver Safety (T601B)
  57. Lower-back Injury Study (S202J)
  58. Managing Approach Speeds at Junctions (S211X)
  59. Mixed Priority Routes (S204J)
  60. Monitoring and Evaluation of New Driver Safety Measures (S213K)
  61. Monitoring Post-2000 Targets (S240P)(O)
  62. Monitoring Progress Towards the 2010 Target Phase 2 (T501C)
  63. Monitoring the Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels of Drink Drive Rehabilitation Course Attendees (T301B)
  64. Monitoring the Effectiveness of Field Impairment Tests (S240C)(O)
  65. Multivariate Analysis of Existing Data on Factors Affecting the Accident Risk of Motorcyclists (S501F)(O)
  66. National Roll-out of Safety (Speed and Red-light) Cameras (S401C)(O)
  67. Older Pedestrians: A Review (S301F)
  68. On the Spot Studies (S216P)
  69. Organisational Safety Culture and Accidents (S201B)(O)
  70. Over-the-counter Medicines and Road Safety: A Literature Review and Commentary (S219R)
  71. Police Fatal Road Accident Reports: Phase III (S240E)(O)
  72. Project report: On the Spot Studies
  73. Provision of Road Safety Education in England and Wales (S214X)
  74. Review of Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Training and Qualifications (S213V)
  75. Review of Collection of Cycling Data (T101C)
  76. Review of Current Literature on Functional Correlates of Visual Field Defects (S601F)
  77. Review of LGV and PCV Accidents (S201C)(O)
  78. Review of Literature on Peer Education (T101H)
  79. Review of Literature on the Involvement of Children from Ethnic Minority Origin in Child Pedestrian Accidents (S224F)
  80. Review of Looked but Failed to See Accident Causation Factor (S240M)
  81. Review of Pedestrian Accidents Involving Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) (T101F)
  82. Review of Road Safety Education Linked Database (S224K)
  83. Review of Speed Enforcement Techniques and Speed Limit Information and Advice for Drivers (T401C)
  84. Review of the Contributory Factors System (S501K)(O)
  85. Review of the Practical Driving Test (S213R)(O)
  86. Review: Clinical Status and Performance Relevant to Driving (S601D)
  87. Reviews of Health Behaviour Interventions for Adolescents (T101B)
  88. Road Safety of Disabled Children and Adults (S101C)
  89. Roadside Evidential Breath-testing Instruments: Practicalities and Suitability of Available Devices (S301E)(O)
  90. Roadside Surveys of Drinking and Driving (S219N)
  91. Rural Road Hierarchy Development (S401D)
  92. Rural Speed Management
  93. SARTRE III (Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe) (S240N)(O)
  94. Scoping Study on Motorcycle Training (S501G)
  95. Statistical Analysis of Accident Data II (S201S)(O)
  96. Statistical Monitoring of the Effectiveness of Driver Improvement Schemes (S501I)(O)
  97. Study on the Effectiveness of Road Policing Methods (T201E)
  98. Survey of Voluntary Use of P-plates (S501L)(O)
  99. TEST (Towards European Standards for Testing) (S201H)(O)
  100. The Ageing Driver (S217C)
  101. The High Risk Offender Project - Refinement and Further Analysis (S240K)
  102. The Influence of Cannabis on Driving (S224I)
  103. The Influence of Cannabis on Driving: Phase II - The Interaction of Cannabis with Alcohol (S224I)
  104. The Interactions between Sleepiness and Moderate Alcohol Intake (S219U)(O)
  105. The Linkages between Local Highway Authority Investment Data and Casualty Reduction Performance (T401A)
  106. The Older Motorcyclist (S501B)(O)
  107. The Potential of Physical Exercise Interventions to Reduce Driver Stress and Fatigue (S301H)
  108. The Rehabilitation Project - Further analysis, evaluation and monitoring
  109. The Role of CDT as an Alternative to GGT as a Marker of Continuous Drinking (T601C)
  110. Traffic Management in the Evening (S204K)
  111. Training Children in the Use of Designated Crossings (S214G,d)
  112. Training for Children Transferring from Primary to Secondary School (S214W)
  113. Trials of Network Accident Models (S205P)
  114. Unlicensed Drivers (S240H)(O)
  115. Urban Safety Management Demonstration Project (S204I)(O)
  116. Urban Speed Limit Compliance (S240A)
  117. Visual Field Defects (S601B)(O)
  118. Work-related Road Traffic Accidents (S501E)(O)
Department for Transport
Road Safety Research, Zone 2/09, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR
Contact country: 
United Kingdom
Fax Number: 
(+44) 207 944 9618