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Translating road safety into health outcomes using a quantitative impact assessment model
  1. Stijn Dhondt1,
  2. Ali Pirdavani2,
  3. Cathy Macharis3,
  4. Tom Bellemans2,
  5. Koen Putman1,4
  1. 1Department of Medical Sociology and Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2Transportation Research Institute (IMOB), Faculty of Applied Economics, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
  3. 3Department MOSI-Transport and Logistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  4. 4Interuniversity Centre for Health Economics Research (I-CHER), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Stijn Dhondt, Department of Medical Sociology and Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Laarbeeklaan 103, Brussels B-1090, Belgium; stijn.dhondt{at}


Introduction The majority of traffic safety policies are limited to preventing mortality. However, non-fatal injuries also impose a significant risk of adverse health. Therefore, both mortality and morbidity outcomes should be included in the evaluation of traffic safety policies. The authors propose a method to evaluate different policy options taking into account both fatalities and serious injuries.

Methods A health impact model was developed and aligned with a transport and road safety model, calculating the health impact of fatalities and seriously injured traffic victims for two transport scenarios in Flanders and Brussels (Belgium): a base scenario and a fuel price increase of 20% as an alternative. Victim counts were expressed as disability adjusted life years, using a combination of police and medical data. Seriously injured victims were assigned an injury, using injury distributions derived from hospital data, to estimate the resulting health impact from each crash. Health impact of fatalities was taken as the remaining life expectancy at the moment of the fatal crash.

Results The fuel price scenario resulted in a decrease of health impact due to fatalities of 5.53%–5.85% and 3.37%–3.88% for severe injuries. This decrease was however not equal among all road users.

Conclusions With this method, the impact of traffic polices can be evaluated on both mortality and morbidity, while taking into account the variability of different injuries following a road crash. This model however still underestimates the impact due to non-fatal injuries.

  • Health impact assessment
  • road traffic injury
  • disability adjusted life years
  • traffic safety
  • policy
  • policy analysis
  • process/impact evaluation
  • disability
  • mortality
  • engineering
  • motor vehicle occupant
  • rehabilitation
  • public health
  • economic analysis
  • costs

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  • Funding This work was carried out with the financial support of the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (Grant number IWT412) and research funds of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The hospital data from the injury population are available from the corresponding author.