Article Text

Car manufacturers and global road safety: a word frequency analysis of road safety documents
  1. I Roberts1,
  2. R Wentz2,
  3. P Edwards1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2Cochrane Injuries Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor I Roberts
 Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; Ian.Roberts{at}


Objective: The World Bank believes that the car manufacturers can make a valuable contribution to road safety in poor countries and has established the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) for this purpose. However, some commentators are sceptical. The authors examined road safety policy documents to assess the extent of any bias.

Design: Word frequency analyses of road safety policy documents from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GRSP.

Main outcome measures: The relative occurrence of key road safety terms was quantified by calculating a word prevalence ratio with 95% confidence intervals. Terms for which there was a fourfold difference in prevalence between the documents were tabulated.

Results: Compared to WHO’s World report on road traffic injury prevention, the GRSP road safety documents were substantially less likely to use the words speed, speed limits, child restraint, pedestrian, public transport, walking, and cycling, but substantially more likely to use the words school, campaign, driver training, and billboard.

Conclusions: There are important differences in emphasis in road safety policy documents prepared by WHO and the GRSP. Vigilance is needed to ensure that the road safety interventions that the car industry supports are based on sound evidence of effectiveness.

  • GRSP, Global Road Safety Partnership
  • WHO, World Health Organization
  • World Health Organization
  • bias
  • traffic accidents
  • Global Road Safety Partnership

Statistics from


  • Competing interests: none.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.