• Study location Paros, MDH Västerås
  • 2020-06-10 13:00–16:00

The public defense of Astrid Värnild’s doctoral thesis

The public defense of Astrid Värnild’s doctoral thesis in public health will take place at 13.00 on June 10, 2020.

Title: Seriously injured road users in rural and urban road traffic in a Swedish region – a Vision Zero perspective.

The faculty examiner is Professor Marie Hasselberg, Karolinska Institutet and the examining committee consists of Rune Elvik, Aalborg Univerity; Associate Professor Erik Hysing, Örebro University; Associate Professor Diana Stark Ekman, Skövde University.

Reserve; Associate Professor Petra von Heideken Wågert, MDH

Number 312.



Less seriously injured car occupants in rural areas and more seriously injured cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas in region Västmanland. A new thesis has examined this issue from a Vision Zero perspective during a period of twelve to fifteen years (2003-2914; 2003-2017).

In Västmanland, most road users are seriously injured in urban areas, which also includes pedestrians in single accidents. Vision Zero measures such as median barriers on roads, speed cameras, changed speed limits and the fact that cars have become safer have contributed to a decreased number of seriously injured car occupants on national roads. However, only decreased speed limits on regional roads in rural areas has not contributed to reducing number of seriously injured car occupants on regional roads.

Seriously injured unprotected road users have increased both in and outside the urban areas, but mostly in the urban areas. Serious injuries occur more on pavements and tracks than on roads. One factor is the increased number of older people in the population. This is mainly due to the large annuals during the 40s and early 50s but also through an increased life span. The increase in seriously injured cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas is significant from 2012 for the group 80 years and older. From 2015 even for those who are 65 years and older.

The probability of serious injuries to the legs as a cyclist or pedestrian in urban areas has quadrupled from the age of fifty and is after that essentially unchanged for pedestrians. For cyclists the probability of leg injuries increases with increasing age. From the age of fifty, the probability of head injuries is reduced especially for cyclists.

For pedestrians, speed limits at 30 instead of 50 km / h together with other Vision Zero measures should have contributed to a reduced probability of serious injuries in more than one bodily region. Pavements and tracks compared to roads at 50 km / h protect pedestrians from serious injuries except from head injuries. However, pavements and tracks protect cyclists only from the most severely injuries.

When 10 counties in Sweden prioritized road investments in plans for regional transport infrastructure for the period 2014-2025, the counties primarily justified investments with justifications as increased accessibility by road transport. But also by the justification to stimulate more walking and cycling and an increased use of public transport. Road safety is more rarely a justification for investments in the examined plans, and if so, it is mostly together with other justifications.

The Government has expressed, both in directives for the planning of transport infrastructure and in clarifications of the Swedish transport goals, the need to increase active transport and make the traffic environment more attractive to these groups.

The thesis concludes that more walking and cycling needs to be combined with more road safety measures to stop the increased number of seriously injured cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas. For continued work on the Vision Zero, pedestrians in single accidents should be included in the road safety work. An injured road user should be defined on the basis of road environment and not on the basis of vehicles.

The dissertation is based on data from health care about seriously injured road users in region Västmanland for a period of twelve (633 road users) and fifteen (403 cyclists and pedestrians) years respectively. Data from regional infrastructure plans for ten Swedish counties are based on plans from counties that have chosen to allocate funds for road safety measures on both state (rural areas) and municipal road networks (urban areas). The thesis will be presented and defended at Mälardalen University in Västerås on June 10, 2020.