The adequate supply of road accident and injury records on a European scale is perceived to be important for the selection, implementation and evaluation of road safety measures. Preventive technical and organisational action, as well as adjustments to existing legislation and its extension, will only be practical at the EU level if standardised databases can be made available - both for road accident causation and the connected crash injuries. The ultimate goal of such a standardisation would be to provide a harmonised European crash injury database.
STAIRS aimed to propose a framework for the harmonisation of detailed European road accident and injury databases.
The main objectives of STAIRS were to:
- produce recommendations for:
- the specification of the core data,
- data collection methods and procedures,
- data quality assurance,
- validation of harmonisation protocols,
- confidentiality of data and ethical issues;
- identify steps for the implementation of a harmonised database.
- analysed three national crash investigation studies from France, Germany and the UK, which focus on accident prevention, legislative support and injury causation, respectively;
- specified a complex set of variables, associated data fields, descriptors, and a glossary of terms to form the basis for a harmonised crash injury database, concentrating on injury prevention, or 'secondary safety';
- assessed current data collection methods, highlighting three principal approaches: retrospective studies (one to several days after the accident), on-the-scene/on-time studies (minimum time delay), and hospital-based studies (mainly medical information);
- defined a set of quality assurance procedures for data collection (observation and recording), initial data processing (database coding), and comparison/analysis of data from different sources;
- validated the protocol for data collection by performing three national case studies, covering the principal investigation and database modules for pedestrian accidents, two-wheeler crashes and car crashes;
- performed feasibility studies in the three countries to prove the linkage of regional accident data to existing in-depth accident data, in order to pave the way for the foreseen extrapolation from detailed data to national or EU level;
- disseminated the new methodology and the framework for harmonised accident injury investigation to the automotive industry, universities and research centres, the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO), several road safety conferences, and via the STAIRS project web site
The STAIRS study has triggered a process towards establishing ultimately a harmonised pan-European accident injury database. The possible realisation of such a database depends on the willingness of national research institutions to co-operate on the issue, which would be well suited to take place in the framework of EC RTD activities. Indeed, the next step should be to further validate the proposed methodology for data acquisition and appraisal, which may be enhanced by the inclusion of Central and Eastern European accession countries.