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The use of cost–benefit analysis in road assessments: a methodological inquiry
  1. Andres I Vecino-Ortiz,
  2. Adnan A Hyder
  1. Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit. Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adnan A Hyder, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Suite E-8132, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA;


Background Cost–benefit analysis is a useful tool for priority setting in road safety. The value of statistical life (VOSL) is a metric used to estimate the benefits of road interventions in cost–benefit analyses. The International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), for example, created a rule-of-thumb to calculate VOSL benefits of road infrastructure when performing cost–benefit assessments in countries where data on VOSL are sparse.

Aim To evaluate the rapid assessment metric developed by iRAP and provide suggestions for improvement in these methods.

Methods We replicated iRAP calculations in order to make a critical assessment of the sources, results and conclusions.

Conclusions We found the iRAP metric a good example for highlighting some relevant aspects that should be considered in any VOSL estimation in order to enhance its use as a guiding principle for assessing road interventions. Specifically, we recommend the explicit disclosure of the assumptions, the use of sensitivity analysis and the avoidance of omitted variables bias.

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