Rural Road Safety: A Literature Review

  • Published: TRL Limited for The Scottish Executive Social Research, 2005
  • Authors: K. Hamilton and J. Kennedy
  • Date Added: 18 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 18 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


The overall aim of this project is to identify, collate and review published research and other information relating to RTIs on rural roads, suggest how it may be applied to the situation in Scotland and provide recommendations for action.


It consists of a review of published literature, mainly from the UK but also including some international papers, on issues and topics related to rural road safety.

Key Findings:

  • Green (1980), in a study to examine the effects of darkness on RTI rates, studied the number of RTIs in the five working days before and after the Sundays in 1975, 1976 and 1977 when the clocks changed. The study examined six regions of Great Britain, including Scotland, separately and the data was confined to non built-up roads.

  • Green (1980) found that in the evening period studied, the frequency of all injury RTIs is about 50 per cent higher and of fatal and serious RTIs about 100 per cent higher. Green (1980) also noted that ‘the changes appear to be consistent over the country’.

  • The evidence that casualty rates, particularly fatal and serious injuries, are higher in darkness has led to several investigations of the potential road safety effects of adopting so called Single/Double Summer Time (SDST). SDST would involve setting clocks to one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +1) from October to March and two hours ahead (GMT +2) from March to October.

  • A recent study into the potential effects of adopting SDST (Broughton and Stone, 1998) found that the effects of darkness are greater for pedestrians than for vehicle occupants and greater for fatalities than non-fatalities.

  • Overall, Broughton and Stone (1998) predicted that KSI casualty rates for the whole of Great Britain for the period 1991-94 would have been 0.8 per cent lower had SDST been in place. The predicted reduction for Scotland was slightly lower at 0.7 per cent. However, it should be noted that the separate analysis for Scotland was limited by sparse data – particularly in the morning. The data could not be disaggregated by severity, time of day or into pedestrian and vehicle occupants.

  • Therefore, the effect of SDST on rural casualty rates in Scotland is not clear.

  • On the basis of the evidence, several road safety organisations support the adoption of SDST. For example, RoSPA has suggested that SDST be introduced on a trial basis for two to three years so that the effects can be directly measured (RoSPA, 2003).


SDST, KSI casualties, Scotland


Literature review which references historical research.