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UNECE, Eurostat and International Transport Forum improve comparability of transport statistics

UNECE, Eurostat and International Transport Forum improve comparability of transport statistics

For any evidence-based transport and sustainable mobility policy, producing relevant transport statistics that are timely, accurate and impartial is necessary. For instance, with 1.35 million people dying in road traffic accidents each year, there is much interest in comparing data on safety records across different modes of transport. These statistics facilitate monitoring of progress towards the transport-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as through indicator 3.6.1 on reducing road fatalities, 9.1.2 on monitoring passenger and freight modal shares, and 11.2.1 on ensuring access to convenient public transport in urban areas. However, ensuring that data are comparable across countries and modes is not always straightforward.

The Glossary for Transport Statistics has been jointly developed by Eurostat, UNECE and the International Transport Forum (ITF) since 1994, and it plays an important role in providing definitions of statistical terms for all modes of transport, from infrastructure, vehicles and traffic measurement, through to transport safety and energy consumption. The latest edition of the Glossary features new chapters dedicated to passenger mobility, the environmental impact of transport, and measuring intermodal transport.

The Glossary’s definitions have been updated to accurately reflect new transport developments and how data are collected across different transport modes.  Starting in 2017, member States and other relevant organisations had the opportunity to provide new or revised definitions, for consideration in the fifth edition of the Glossary (the fourth edition was published in 2009). It was a particular goal for this edition to improve the global scope of the glossary, ensuring that definitions are relevant for countries in all regions and not just Europe. This was often achieved by adding explanations of different terminology from different regions. For example, small unstaffed rail stop-off points (pictured) may be referred to as either Halts or Flag Stops, depending on the country, and so the Glossary includes reference to both terms. 

Other newly inserted definitions reflect changes in bicycle infrastructure, passenger mobility patterns, as well as new definitions of different levels of autonomous driving.

These harmonized definitions mean that data can be compared across transport modes and countries. Further, with the glossary terms being applied to a common questionnaire administered jointly by the three organisations, it ensures that identical data are reported to all organisations at the same time, so busy national statistical offices do not have to provide the same information multiple times. In support of evidence-based transport policies and monitoring the transport-related SDGs, the ITF, Eurostat and UNECE will continue to assist Member States to produce better transport statistics.

The 5th edition of the Glossary for Transport Statistics is available at:

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

Reproduction is permitted provided that the source is acknowledged.