Several types of research may be defined, including: (a) research to improve understanding (behaviour, accidentology, biomechanics [etc]); (b) methodological research (experimentation, modelling, simulation [etc]); (c) pre-standardization research (certification, quality, standards [etc]); (d) pre-competitive research (industry and services); (e) pre-regulation research (alcohol, drugs, working hours [etc]); and (f) evaluation research (before and after studies [etc]).
The research should take into account the influences of (a) mobility (mode, motive, conditions [etc]); (b) traffic (road traffic, urban and suburban traffic, diurnal or night traffic, two-wheeled vehicles [etc]); (c) the composition of the vehicles on the road (lorries, private cars, age, state, weight and power); (d) demography (the age and sex of the road users according to the transport mode and motives for their travel); (e) opinions, attitudes and behaviour that can be objectified in relation to road safety; and (f) road accidents (types, circumstances and the level of seriousness).
In line with European harmonization of certain rules and regulations, the Forum of European Road Safety Research Centres is making a precise comparison of the organization and efficiency of control and enforcement of various regulations (drink driving, speed rules, seat-beat [etc]) among different countries. The rules in force for penalties and the likelihood of detection are also included.
Deaths and injuries caused by road traffic accidents remain a high-priority issue in the European region. Despite some improvements in mortality trends, 120 000 deaths and 2.5 million injuries were reported in 1995, with indications that the number of road accidents was increasing. A recent development in tackling the problem of road safety is the increasing awareness that strategies aimed at improving safety should be integrated with those aimed at improving the environment.
New opportunities may be offered by developing the concept of upstream safety strategies directed at the underlying forces that give rise to road accidents, such as managing the demand and need for transport and understanding the reasons behind increased mobility. Notably, many of the interventions that could be considered, such as changing the relative distribution of different modes of transport and promoting accessibility rather than mobility, overlap with the strategies being worked out to address other transport-related environmental concerns such as air pollution, noise and congestion.