Toral Patel

Research Title: Evaluation of the effects of modal switching on overall safety levels in transport systems
Research Areas:

Director of Studies: Professor Peter White
Second Supervisor: Dr Nigel Dennis
Starting Date and Mode of Study: 2007 Part-Time

Thesis Synopsis

The central thesis of this dissertation is that at both a theoretical and a practical policy level the potential contribution of cross-modal switching to improving overall transport safety has been almost entirely overlooked. In the few instances where cross-modal switching has been considered as a policy tool or option this has been in the context of environmental rather than safety policy. On many transport routes or journeys there are a number of modal options and so choices need to be made by the consumer of transport services. It is now well established by comparative studies of the risk of death/serious injury per passenger km in different modes  that levels of safety differ very markedly between modes. This suggests that overall transport safety could be improved by encouraging or even requiring transport consumers to switch to safer modes.


The dissertation seeks to develop this insight both at a theoretical level, by setting it within the literature on transport safety, and at a practical level by investigating the precise safety gains on specific journey types by modal switching or changing the modal mix. The implications for overall transport safety policy are then investigated. The dissertation is underpinned by two convictions. Firstly that transport safety policy can only gain from being put on a rationally informed footing. Secondly that transport safety policies have in the past been developed with reference to single modes in a tightly compartmentalised manner. By treating modes independently and without reference to alternatives rather than in a comprehensive manner, policy has hitherto disregarded the considerable potential contribution to overall passenger safety of simple modal switching which for many journeys may be a relatively low cost policy option.