Your article in the March issue of OECD Observer No. 216 makes many valuable points and rightly highlights the problem of pedestrians. May I, as an uban policy analyst, put a proposal to you. Ministries of Transport and even road safety authorities tend to portray road casualties by means of graphs which show casualty rates per head of population. As in the case of the graph in your own article this portrayal generally shows a satisfying decline.
This in turn permits policy-makers to feel comfortable about what they are doing. But death and injuries on the roads can be shown otherwise. Accumulated numbers of road victims could be forecast over a period of, say, a decade so as to depict the sum of human suffering, and the accumulated health service costs, that flow from current road vehicle technology and use.If such an exercise was done for OECD countries the resulting picture would be sobering: if it was done for India and other developing countries it would be horrifying. Together the two kinds of forecasts (and the singling out of occupant and pedestrian casualties) promise to be of huge importance for road safety. It should be possible to use the data to put real pressure on the motor industry, a body which has, in my view, never taken responsibility for the lethal side-effects of its products.Terence Bendixson,39 Elm Park Gardens
London SW10 9QFUnited Kingdom©OECD Observer No 217-218, Summer 1999