Personal information and data protection

How we comply with data protection law, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), when using personal information in our statistics.


The Department for Transport (DfT) occasionally collects personal data when producing some of our statistics. Whilst the majority of our statistics do not involve the collection of personal data, this page provides details on those statistics that do. When we do collect personal data, DfT will, under data protection law, be the controller for this information. This page provides details on specific instances of where personal data are handled in this way.

DfT’s Personal Information Charter contains more information about your rights in relation to your personal data, how to complain and how to contact the Data Protection Officer.

Statistical uses of the police recorded personal injury road accident data


Data on road accidents resulting in personal injury are recorded by the police forces (either when an accident is reported to them or by attending the scene themselves) and uploaded to their incident recording systems. These data are transferred to the Department for Transport (DfT) for statistical research purposes. This notice informs those whose data has been collected about the storage, processing and usage of those data by DfT.

Information about road accidents involving human death or personal injury occurring on the Highway is recorded by police officers and transferred securely to DfT on a weekly/monthly/quarterly or yearly basis. Both Police forces and the DfT are data controllers.

DfT uses this information to report statistics, monitor trends, carry out research and to support others in using road accident analysis to inform road improvement schemes or new road developments. Use of the data feeds into analysis of the safety of the road network and helps identify where improvements can be made to reduce the number of road accidents and save lives in the UK. Police Forces use the information to help inform operational tactical deployment of their patrols in order to fulfil one of their primary roles, the reduction of road casualties.

What data will be transferred to DfT?

In summary, this includes details of all road injury collisions (accidents, vehicles and casualties) reported to the Police.

1) Locational data (including postcode and geo-location)

  • Home postcode of persons involved (drivers and casualties)
  • Accident location (eastings and northings can be recorded to 1m accuracy)

2) Demographic data, including (age, gender)

  • Age, gender of persons involved (drivers and casualties)

3) Identifying data of an official nature (health information, police records)

  • Severity of injury (fatal, severe and slight).
  • CRASH severity of injury (only the casualties’ most serious of 22 injury types are reported)
  • Screened breath test data from all persons involved
  • Contributory Factors (factors which contributed to the accident, based on police officers’ initial assessments and may allude to criminal behaviour e.g. speeding, but are not part of the criminal record)
  • Vehicle details e.g. vehicle type and Vehicle Registration Marks (VRM)
  • Hit and run

The Department for Transport website provides a complete list of the data items collected by the Police Forces on a STATS19 form.

Who is responsible for this data?

The data controller is defined as the public authority which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

Police Forces and DfT both meet this description and thus are considered data controllers.

The GDPR requires a lawful basis for processing personal data and in this case, Article 6(1)(e) applies: “processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller”. In the case of special categories of data, Article 9(2)(j) applies “processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, or scientific and historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1)”. The special categories of data are processed under The Police and Responsibility Act and other legislate.

How will the data transferred to DfT be used?

The police recorded personal injury road accident data will be used by government as follows to:

  • publish official statistics
  • monitor progress towards national outcomes
  • monitor road safety
  • develop and evaluate policy
  • support research relating to police recorded personal injury road accidents in the interests of improving road safety
  • support others in analysing road accident data to inform road improvement schemes or the development of new roads
  • support educational programs promoting road safety
  • support funding decisions to improve road safety

This may include DfT (or contractors working as data processors on behalf of DfT) linking data through secure anonymised means with other datasets e.g. hospital episode statistics (HES) for research purposes. To know the full list of current processors please contact us at the address below.

DfT may use the personal identifiable aspects of the data to support the uses set out above. However the data will not be used or processed to:

  • take action or support measures or decisions with respect to individuals
  • cause intentional harm
  • identify any individuals in any reports

Results from analyses carried out using the data will be made available in statistical or research publications released via the DfT website.

What processes are in place for data sharing of the dataset transferred to DfT?

A subset of STATS19 variables collected for DfT are released as open data. Other government departments and approved researchers can apply for access to the full set of STATS19 variables through arrangements outlined in the Licensed Data section.

Open data

DfT releases a limited subset of STATS19 as Open data under an Open Government Licence published annually to External users such as Local Authorities, police forces, transport planners and the wider public will be able to use this published information for their own purposes, such as performance measurement and management; to improve practice and to hold government to account. DfT makes this data available to encourage research leading to improved road safety outcomes.

The open data variables and the open data are available for download.

Licensed Data

DfT does share some of the data provided to them with other public sector organisations, non government agencies and approved researchers, but only for statistical or research purposes. In every case any such disclosures will be scrutinised by the DfT (Head of Road Safety Statistics) and – if approved – controlled by an appropriate DfT data access agreement which will:

  • check the purpose the data will be used for and compliance with data protection legislation of recipients
  • ensure secure transfer, storage and eventual destruction of the data
  • only include personal information if there is a clear requirement
  • limit the use to the specific requirement identified, ensuring that no individual can be identified in any published reports

What are the security arrangements and who is responsible for the data transferred to DfT?

The personal information of the STATS19 data will only be transferred to approved individuals at DfT. Personal information will only be transferred to any individual outside DfT if they have a legal right to the data, and only after a data access agreement is in place.

The information will be transferred through a secure data transfers using an approved encryption service, in which the data files will be encrypted and password protected.

At DfT, the data will be stored in a secure database with access limited to approved DfT users. DfT and police forces are responsible for any data that they hold for as long as they hold it.

How long will the data transferred to DfT be held?

Data will be retained by DfT for as long as it remains useful for research purposes, and because historical data can be very useful in this context, this is likely to be a considerable number of years.

Where data is shared with third parties for research purposes, they will be required to destroy the data when the project is complete, as set out in their data access agreement.

DfT’s privacy policy has more information about your rights in relation to your personal data, how to complain and how to contact the Data Protection Officer.

Questions about this notice should be directed to DfT in writing to the address below. Complaints should also be directed to this address in the first instance.

Road Safety Statistics
2/13, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road


Road Traffic Counts

Confidentiality and data protection

The Department for Transport carries out traffic counts in the public interest in order to produce the official Road Traffic Statistics for Great Britain. The traffic counts themselves are not personal data, as the simple counts of vehicles by type do not include any information which could be used to identify an individual. However, in the course of carrying out the counts some personal data may be collected and DfT is the data controller for this personal information.

What personal information is collected?

DfT collects road traffic data through 2 contracts – the National Road Traffic Census (NRTC) of roadside traffic counts and an Automated Traffic Counter (ATC) network. Both of these may from time to time capture personal data as set out below.

  1. Most NRTC traffic counts are carried out manually by people positioned at the roadside. However, where it is not safe or practical to carry out counts this way, the traffic is recorded on video and counted later in the office. Generally the video is not detailed enough to recognise individual vehicles, but it is possible that in some cases a registration mark, vehicle passenger or a distinctive vehicle might be recognisable. The time and location of the video footage is also recorded.

  2. In order to manage the NRTC counts and ensure their quality, the contractor is required to take photos of each traffic count location, including photos of the count under way.

  3. In order to manage the ATC network, and ensure it is being maintained properly, the ATC network maintenance contractor is required to take photos of the road layout at each ATC, and details of the ATC equipment, during routine site inspections and at other times when maintenance is required.

  4. In order to test or develop improved counting methods, tests are occasionally carried out using video cameras and automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR), including timestamps, location and direction of travel, in order to compare these results with other types of traffic counting. The duration of such tests is typically only a few hours, and the collection equipment is only installed for the duration of the test.

In all cases, the contractors are required to avoid capturing members of the public or other personal information, such as vehicle registrations or property details, as far as possible in the images they take, but it will not be possible to avoid this altogether.

Who has access to the data?

DfT has appointed Q-Free UK Limited to manage the ATC network.

WSP UK Limited have been appointed to manage the National Road Traffic Census, supported by 4 suppliers who carry out the NRTC roadside traffic counts: Intelligent Data Collection, Nationwide Data Collection, Tracsis and WSP Transportation Data Collection Team.

These organisations are all data processors for the contract they work on.

The data is also accessible to the teams at DfT processing the traffic count results.

What will happen to the data?

The data is retained by the contractor for the duration of the contract (current contracts have a maximum length of 5 years). Within one year from termination of the contract, the data is securely transferred to the DfT, where it is retained for research purposes, to ensure that the official road traffic statistics series can be managed, updated and analysed on a consistent basis. The contractor must securely destroy all copies of the data in their possession within one year of termination of the contract, and after its transfer to DfT.

DfT may share selected data with contractors undertaking similar data collection work for it in the future to ensure continuity of service, and consistency with the traffic counts previously undertaken.

DfT may share selected data with organisations for research purposes. Each case will be carefully judged on its individual merits, balancing the potential benefits of the research against any potential risks to individuals from the sharing of data.

National Travel Survey

Who carries out the survey?

The survey is commissioned by the Department for Transport and the surveys completed by experienced research interviewers from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

How are people chosen for the survey?

NatCen select a random sample of addresses from a list of all addresses in England, kept by the Post Office. This is to make sure that the survey represents the whole country. The findings do not identify individuals or families because names and addresses are not passed to anyone outside the National Centre for Social Research.

Do we still interview people who do not travel very often?

We are interested in individuals’ daily experience of travel – however much or little they do. The results are used to look at how travelling changes over time, and to make decisions about the future. We need information from a wide range of people including those in or out of work, children, young people and the elderly. Otherwise we will not get a true picture of travel. The study provides current information about travel which cannot be collected in any other way.

What kinds of travel are covered by the survey?

We are interested in all the different types of journey people make and how often they do so. This includes journeys to school or work, shopping trips and trips for leisure or social purposes. Both local and long-distance travel are covered, as are all forms of transport (such as cars, buses, trains, cycling and walking).

The GDPR requires a legal basis for processing personal data and in this case, Article 6(1)(e) applies: “processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller”.

What is the survey used for?

The National Travel Survey is used to build up a picture of how and why different kinds of people travel. The information is anonymised and used by local and national government, as well as by consultants, academics, pressure groups and charities. In addition a set of anonymised data are deposited at the UK Data Service and the Office for National Statistics Secure Research Service for use by approved researchers.

Some of the specific uses of the survey include studying school children’s travel, monitoring road accidents, predicting future traffic levels and finding out the transport needs of minority groups.

What will happen to any information given?

We treat information in the strictest confidence under current data protection legislation. The results are used for statistical purposes only. Personal details will only be known to the teams processing the survey results at National Centre for Social Research and the Department for Transport.

Personal data will be stored securely. The data is retained by the contractor for two years. Each year, pseudonymised data is securely transferred to DfT, where it is retained for research purposes, to ensure that the National Travel Survey series can be managed, updated and analysed on a consistent basis under Article 89(1) of the GDPR regulations. The contractor must securely destroy all copies of personal data in their possession within two years of termination of the contract, and after its transfer to DfT.

Participation in this research is not compulsory and people have the right to withdraw at any stage. To lodge a complaint about the way the survey has been conducted please contact the National Centre for Social Research on or 0800 652 4568, quoting the reference number printed on the advance letter. If we’re not able to resolve a complaint, the next step is to contact the Social Research Association.

Data protection contacts

Data Protection Officer
Department for Transport
Ashdown House
Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex
TN37 7GA


If you remain dissatisfied, or if you require independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing issues, contact:

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Website: Information Commissioner’s Office

Published 27 June 2019