Assessment of the Value for Preventing a Fatality (VPF) (T616 Report)

Covey, J, Robinson, A, Jones-Lee, M, Loomes, G and Thomson, T (2010) Assessment of the Value for Preventing a Fatality (VPF) (T616 Report).

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Abstract

In considering the level at which to set the Value of Preventing a Statistical Fatality (VPSF) for rail accidents, the RSSB started with the “baseline case” of a single-fatality rail accident involving an adult passenger behaving responsibly. Following careful consideration of the available empirical evidence, as well as the ethical issues involved, it was decided to set this VPSF at a level equal to the willingness-to-pay-based value used by the DfT in road project appraisal (currently about £1.4 million in 2004 prices). However, this still left open the question of the appropriate level at which the rail VPSF should be set for a number of other cases, involving, for example, the death of a responsible adult in a multiple-fatality rail accident; or a child who has wandered in error into the path of an oncoming train; or a track worker; or, indeed, an adult trespasser or suicide. In view of this, in 2005 the RSSB commissioned a research project aimed at establishing how members of the public would prioritise the prevention of these other types of rail fatality relative to the “baseline case” of a single fatality of a responsibly behaved, adult passenger. The approach used in the study was to present respondents in a nationally representative sample survey – conducted in June 2006 by GfK-NOP and involving a sample of 1033 respondents – with so-called matching questions, designed to elicit their relative preferences. Essentially these questions aim to establish the number of rail fatalities of a given type that would need to be prevented by a safety improvement in order for the respondent to regard that safety improvement as being “equally as socially desirable” as the prevention of a given number of baseline case fatalities. Thus suppose that, other things being equal, a respondent regarded the prevention of ten adult passenger deaths in a multiple-fatality rail accident as being equally as good as the prevention of ten adult passenger deaths in separate single-fatality rail accidents (i.e. ten baseline case fatalities). For this respondent the value of preventing each adult fatality in a multiple-fatality accident would be treated as being equal to the baseline case value. By contrast, suppose that a respondent regarded the prevention of ten adult trespasser fatalities as being equally as desirable as the prevention of two adult fatalities in single-fatality rail accidents. Then the implied value for the prevention of an adult trespasser fatality would be one fifth of the value for the baseline case. And so on. The main findings of the study were as follows: • In the matching questions no more than half the sample regarded the prevention of a fatality in a multiple-fatality rail accident as taking priority over the prevention of a baseline case fatality in a single-fatality rail accident. This applied both to the case of a multiple-fatality accident resulting from signal failure and to a multiple fatality accident involving a fire in a tunnel. • Based on the means of the matching responses, the VPSF valuation ratio relative to the baseline case is 1.28:1 for the prevention of a fatality in a multiple-fatality accident caused by signal failure and 1.12:1 for the multiple-fatality accident involving a fire in a tunnel. In both cases the VPSF valuation ratio based on the medians of the matching responses is 1:1. • For all rail fatalities in which the victim is, to all intents and purposes, behaving responsibly (including rail passengers, car drivers killed at level crossings, track workers and adult passengers accidentally tripping and falling from a platform), as well as child trespassers who have simply taken a shortcut, the VPSF ratios relative to the baseline case do not differ greatly from 1:1, so that for such cases it is recommended that the VPSF is set equal to the baseline figure. • For cases in which adult victims are behaving irresponsibly (including adult trespassers engaged in acts of vandalism, car drivers behaving irresponsibly at level crossings, and drunks falling from platforms), as well as child trespassers engaged in acts of vandalism, and suicides, the VPSF ratios relative to the baseline case all lie in the region of 0.4:1 so that for such cases it is recommended that the VPSF is set equal at 40% of the baseline figure. • No further differentiation in the value of preventing rail fatalities is recommended.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2016 15:03
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2020 00:20
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/56249
DOI:

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