Research at DFT

An overview of research undertaken by the Department for Transport.

The Department for Transport is committed to making policies that are based on evidence. We need evidence so we can understand the context in which we’re working, the challenges we’re facing and how these will change over time. Evidence also helps us to understand the likely impacts of our policies and lets us evaluate whether they’re effective.

We use evidence from a variety of disciplines including science, statistics and social research. We commission original research to provide evidence where it’s not available from other sources.

Research projects and reports

Information about research projects funded by the department is available from our research database and we publish research and analysis reports online.

Highways England and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency conduct their own research.

How we procure research

We commission external organisations to conduct research to meet some of our evidence requirements. See Procurement at DfT for information about working with us.

Science research

Science and engineering evidence and advice informs a lot of the work we do. Our Chief Scientific Adviser and Science Advisory Council help to make sure that we have access to the best and most up-to-date science and engineering information.

Social research and evaluation

DfT’s social researchers work with economists, statisticians, operational researchers and scientists. Their research and evaluation supports a wide range of transport policy areas.

Social research generates data and analysis using the methods of social science such as social surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, case studies and new methods such as deliberative research. As well as these methods, policy evaluation also involves cost-benefit analyses, and measures the delivery of policies and initiatives against objectives. This helps us to understand the effects and results of our policies, so we can learn lessons to improve transport policies and services in the future.

We publish online social research and evaluation reports and road safety research and statistical reports.

All the social research and evaluation we do follows the government social researchers (GSR) code. Measures to make sure we follow the GSR publications protocol were introduced during April 2010. This ensures the transparency and openness of government social research.


The department publishes commentary, tables and data on statistical trends in transport.

Transport science and research