12.2 The Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation
With limited budgets, it is very important to demonstrate that road safety interventions are effective, and of value. This is particularly important in LMICs where comprehensive action plans have been developed fairly recently with limited funds from central governments and aid agencies. Good information is required on the effectiveness of interventions to ensure that limited available funding is spent in the most effective way. There is currently a large gap in our understanding of how different interventions improve safety in LMICs. Intervention Effectiveness in LMICs in Intervention Options And Selection highlights some of the difficulties in using information from HICs on treatment effectiveness in LMICs. An evidence-based approach is required to improve knowledge on effectiveness of interventions in LMICs, and this can only occur through monitoring and evaluation of interventions in these countries.
Even worse than the inefficient use of limited funding is the possible use of interventions that lead to an increase in crash risk. Unfortunately, this situation does occur in public policy decision making, including those regarding road safety, often as the result of poor information, as a result of behavioural adaptation from road users, or from a poor implementation process. It may also occur due to trade-offs in decision making, whereby safety considerations are not given as high a priority as other issues (such as mobility).
One example that illustrates how a ‘safety’ intervention can produce an increase in risk comes from driver education programmes. Although it may seem unlikely that increased driver training and education would have either no effect or even moderately increase crash risk, this is exactly what has been found. There is good evidence to show that some advanced driver training (such as skid control courses) actually increase the crash risk (Helman et al., 2010, cited in McKenna, 2010; and Williams, 2006, cited in McKenna, 2010). A systematic review by Roberts and Kwan (2001, cited in McKenna, 2010) on road safety education programmes concluded that there was no evidence of a reduction in crash involvement as a result of driver education and that there may actually be a slight increase in traffic crashes for teenagers.
Various explanations have been suggested to explain why driver education does not have clear positive effects, but what is clear from this example is that accurate information on effectiveness in road safety is required as the basis for policy decisions that (first and foremost) do not increase risk, and that lead to effective use of limited resources.
Although monitoring and evaluation is an important component of infrastructure safety management, it need not be undertaken to the same extent for each project. For example, if a safety intervention is implemented in a particular locality that has already been thoroughly evaluated then the requirement for further evaluation may be more limited. Safety treatments that have had little or no use in the locality will need to follow a more thorough evaluation process.