According to commonly used measures of traffic safety, Sweden has one of the safest road transportation systems in the world, whereas the USA has relatively poor road safety performance. Although national comparisons are useful, they are problematical because they generalise across a diverse mix of travel environments (eg, urban and rural). This study used an array of traffic death rates to determine whether comparable urban regions in Sweden and California—Stockholm and San Francisco—have similar road safety performance for various types of road users. The study found that the Stockholm region is far safer than the San Francisco Bay area for pedestrians and bicyclists, even when comparing the regions' core cities, but may not be any safer for motor vehicle occupants. In addition, comparing traffic safety with traditional measures of exposure such as population and motor vehicle travel produced different results than measures that account for mode-specific exposure.
- pedestrian and bicyclist safety
- traffic safety indicators
- urban transportation
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Funding The author received partial funding for this research from the following sources: US Federal Highway Administration, Swedish Women's Educational Association, the University of California Transportation Center, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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