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Statistics and expertise on road safety. A comparison between France and the USA

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


Background & Policy context

This is a comparative analysis looking at social conditions of the production of road safety statistics.


The objective was to highlight the social conditions of the production of road safety statistics, particularly focusing on academic strategies related to expertise in the field of road safety.

This was achieved by delivering a representation of the road safety statistical production in France and the USA for the past 30 years, and their links with different legitimate expertise of public action in this sector.


The project brought together researchers and PhD of political science, specialised in policy analysis and sociology.

Classical quantitative methods are used, such as semi-directive interviews and literature/data reviews. Also, an observation period took place within a French organisation responsible for producing road safety statistics.

It should be noted that this was an 'historical approach' and did not take into account recent developments in the production of road safety statistics in France since 2002.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
METLTM: Ministère de l'Equipement, des Transports, du Logement, du Tourisme et de la Mer (Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Housing, Tourism and the Sea):(1) DSCR (Road Traffic and Safety Directorate)(2) DRAST (Research Directorate)
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


An issue that France and the US shared regards the centrality of road engineers as responsible actors for rationalizing public action in the sector. The project allowed to understand the importance of the development of transport engineering expertise and their influence on the orientation of the statistical system, and consequently on the programs of public action undertaken. 

The comparison between the two countries has also revealed important differences in the way in which statistical systems are structured by private interests, particularly those of car manufacturers. Since traffic accidents started to be counted in the USA, manufacturers have played a key role, often dominating the public sector, particularly federal players. This influence, even contested in the 1960s, remained crucial.

The project highlighted the French situation where car manufacturers have never invested heavily on road safety issues, rather focusing their efforts on research for the development of safety equipment on vehicles.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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