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Optimal investments

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

The goal of this project is to determine how deciders as 'rationally' as possible can weigh up the costs and benefits of the available alternatives for road safety. To do this, economic models and methods will be used. A start was made during the SWOV programme 1999-2002:

  • the methods of social cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses were made applicable for using in determining the National Traffic and Transport Plan and regional plans;
  • an initial application of these methods has taken place;
  • a methodological preliminary study has been carried out of an integral cost-benefit analysis of a broadly compiled measure package (i.e. taking into account road safety, mobility, and environmental effects of road safety measures); and
  • a PhD study has been carried out about valuing the immaterial damage of road deaths.

The present project continues the course already begun and will complete it.


The economic models and evaluation methods have been successfully applied in many other policy and behavioural areas. The proposed development research is needed to also be able to apply them to road safety. This involves having to solve a number of interesting scientific problems. The project provides advices on how government financial means can be spent more efficiently.


The further development of the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis will take place after consulting users, and be based on existing knowledge (literature study, processing and analysis of existing data about costs, effects, and the valuation of these effects).


The project is divided into three parts. The first part is the concrete elaboration of an integral cost-benefit analysis of a broad measure package (for use at the national level and, if possible, also the regional level). A BSIK subsidy for this part has also been applied for. Depending on whether or not we are awarded this subsidy, the contents and size of this part will be further specified. The second part involves the utility of the so-called QALY method (Quality Adjusted Life Years) in cost-benefit analysis being judged. Among other ways, organising a workshop can do this. Finally, the EU project ROSEBUD has started, with as goal, the use of the cost-benefit analysis method to promote road safety policy.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Research agency
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The Rosebud project was finished in September 2005. In road safety, as in most other fields, efficiency is an important criterion in political and professional decision-making. Tools are available to help choose the policy that gives the highest return on investments. ROSEBUD (Road Safety and Environmental Benefit-Cost and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis for Use in Decision-Making) is a thematic network funded by the European Commission. It is meant to support users at all levels of government in judging the efficiency of road safety measures by making use of Efficiency Assessment Tools (EATs) like Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA). A CBA is meant to answer the integral efficiency question and investigates the social output of a measure or a policy. The monetized value of all effects is compared with the implementation costs of the measure. The CEA is used for the partial efficiency question and estimates the numbers of the casualties saved per invested euro.
Policies and decisions are often based on other grounds than effectiveness and efficiency. Work package 2 of ROSEBUD identified three groups of barriers that were reason for not using CBAs and CEAs: fundamental barriers, institutional barriers, and technical barriers. A total of 28 individual barriers were found and fitted into these three groups of barriers. A large number of barriers are beyond the scope of ROSEBUD. They either are of a philosophical nature, or they are central elements in a certain system of political decision-making.
Work package 3, looked at the remaining barriers and tried to find practical solutions to overcome them, and to improve the use of EATs. These barriers are:
- a lack of generally accepted evaluation techniques;
- inadequate treatment of uncertainties;
- disputable values of parameters in the analysis (e.g. discount rates);
- inadequate methods to deal with distributional effects;
- lack of knowledge of relevant impacts;
- absence of impartial, institutionalized, quality checks on CBAs;
- wrong timing of CBA-information in the decision making process;
- costs of CBA;
- CBA-information does not come from a reliable source (e.g. monopoly position of CBA conductors);
- wrong form of the CBA information (text or figures, tables, diagrams, understandable language, way of offering the information, transparency and accessibility of conclusions);
- prejudices among governors and civil servants because of little knowledge about CBAs.
This study arrived at a number o

Policy implications

Best practice guidelines
Public authorities on the national and EU level can improve the quality and uniformity (comparability) of efficiency assessment studies by establishing 'best practice' guidelines for the methods and techniques. The guidelines can provide some examples of best practice solutions. Examples are: a sensitive type of analysis with scenarios (optimistic, realistic, pessimistic) to handle uncertainties and careful descriptions of the distribution of costs and/or benefits among the various groups that are affected by a measure. They are informal guidelines with no obligation.

Creating and maintaining a database
To stimulate the application of more uniform and reliable values of safety effects in the EU, it would be useful to establish a database with typical values of the effects, based on international experience. The database should give general values of safety effects on initial steps of CBA/CEA and could assist in comparisons of local effects observed. The database should be accessible to a European network of experts.

System of quality control
The quality of efficiency assessments can be improved by the introduction of impartial quality control. This can be achieved by the introduction of a board for impartial quality control. Another instrument to improve the quality of CBAs might be the stimulation of a competitive market for institutes executing CBAs, and certifying institutes that are highly specialized in these types of analyses. A system of impartial quality control should be developed as a follow-up to the ROSEBUD project.

Support and structure cooperation
It is necessary to support and structure the process of close cooperation between decision makers and analysts by introducing an informal professional code for analysts. Decision makers must be trained and educated. 'Tips and tricks' will be provided for understandable reporting on the results of CBAs and CEAs.

Legal embedding
It is still felt to be too early to generally recommend a legally binding CBA for road safety measures. However, the use of CBA in decision making can be stimulated by legal embedding of this assessment tool in decision making processes where large road investments are involved. In those countries where such an obligation does already exist for large investments in infrastructural projects, it should be included as part of the procedure. The EC could introduce a similar obligation at


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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