The fundamental questions of accident research
How does the BFU ensure that its prevention efforts start in the right place? By consistently basing its work on the scientific findings of the research department, which investigates the key questions: How many accidents are occurring? Why are they occurring? How can they be prevented?
The BFU benefits from an interdisciplinary team of statisticians, engineering scientists, psychologists and movement researchers. Together they build the foundation that transforms the BFU’s other core competences – education, advice and communication – into effective prevention measures.
Evidence-based equals fewer accidents
This is achieved primarily through own research projects – such as testing new bicycle helmets or investigating the accident risks in mountaineering. But the BFU also draws on existing knowledge and evaluates the studies available on accident research worldwide.
“Evidence-based” is a key watchword – it refers to work that is based on fact. Instead of just relying on individual studies, overarching results are obtained from several, multi-year research projects.
Comprehensive statistics on accident occurrence
In order to develop its prevention programmes, the BFU must first acquire knowledge on accident occurrence. One of its core tasks is to continuously survey and assess the level of safety in Switzerland. The BFU doesn’t just keep its own accident statistics but also evaluates several other data sources, including the federal statistics on road traffic accidents.
Alongside this groundwork, BFU research is also involved in implementing prevention measures. Of particular importance here are the so-called ‘pretests’, which examine the impact of preventive measures before they are put into practice. During campaigns, for instance, they ensure that the population really understands the posters and messages. Evaluating the adopted measures is equally important. In turn, the results of these analyses are used to plan new activities.
Research doesn’t just focus on the here and now of accident occurrence in Switzerland. The researchers also work hard to identify future accident focal points. These can include social and technological developments, such as demographic changes or self-driving cars in road traffic.
In its research endeavours, the BFU works together with federal authorities, universities, organisations and other partners and also participates in international panels and forums. What’s more: the BFU’s research knowledge is available to all – partners, experts and private individuals.