Open Data on Road Traffic Incidents in Mexico City: Current Situations and Perspectives



International Overview

Governments in a series of the most developed countries apply public policies and specific programs for reducing the number of injuries and fatalities in traffic facts since the late 1990 decade. The Vision Zero initiative is reputed worldwide. Its purpose is reducing the number of these fatalities to zero. This initiative originated in Sweden in 1997 and has been acknowledged by diverse international agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO, 2004). Additionally, the initiative has been used as a guideline by other national or subnational governments, e.g. New York City, Boston and San Francisco, in the United States; Edmonton, Canada; Bristol, UK; a number of cities in Netherlands as well as other countries mainly in Europe.

Several international experiences suggest that modifying traffic regulations by reducing the maximum speed permitted in urban areas is one of the key aspects to reducing the number of injuries and fatalities in traffic facts. In a number of cities in Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland and UK, a 20 MPH (approx. 30 km/h) maximum speed limit has been established in delimited areas. State governments in the United States have also established this action, including Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconsin and others. The efficacy of these measures has been studied by Hart, J. and Parkhurst (2011) and Dover (2013), among others. In Mexico, the speed limit reduction has been applied in Monterrey (State of Nuevo León), Guadalajara and Zapopan (State of Jalisco), and Los Mochis (State of Sinaloa). Reliable statistical data are necessary for designing and evaluating public policies and specific programs, and open data are of even higher utility.

Reliable open data allow government officials, researchers and society to evaluate the effects of the policies and programs. Since the year 2004, the WHO has recommended gathering data on traffic facts to determine prevention priorities on a rational and satisfactory basis.


Mexico City (CDMX) has adopted the Vision Zero (Visión Cero, in Spanish) initiative. This adoption includes, among other actions, the following: reduction of maximum speed limits, and publication of open data on traffic facts. The CDMX Traffic Regulations (F.D. Govt., 2015) establish the existence of zones where the maximum permitted speed is 30 km/h (approx. MPH). Regarding open data on traffic facts in CDMX,the main source that is fully available online is the Statistics on Road Traffic in Urban and Suburban Zones (ATUS statistics), by the Mexican Institute on Statistics and Geography (INEGI, 2014). These have been produced with a national, state and municipal scope on an annual basis since 1997 (approximately 18 consecutive years). The most recently disseminated is the one corresponding to 2014 and it is expected that statistics from the year 2015 become available in the months following publication of this document in May 2016. The data items (i.e. the variables, attributes or features) that are recorded by INEGI to produce the ATUS statistics are presented in Appendices 1a and 1b. However, the only geographic feature that is provided by ATUS about each road traffic fact is the municipality (or delegación of CDMX), with no more specific features, such as the names of the streets or the coordinates. Thus, although ATUS is useful to know and to analyze patterns of traffic incidents at the aggregation level of municipality (or delegación), this does not suffice to design prevention actions that are focused on more specific geographic scopes, such as one street in particular.

Other highly cited statistical data source of traffic incidents is the Mexican Council on Accident Prevention (CONAPRA). However, CONAPRA obtains most of its input data from the ATUS statistics. The data features in ATUS are based on international recommendations by the Organization of American States (OAS) for Statistics on Road Transportation. The INEGI’s data sources are: local agencies on public security and road safety in the States and municipalities of the whole country. In the particular case of CDMX, other data sources of INEGI are: district attorney offices and civic courts. The INEGI’s methodology for gathering of traffic incident data is described in (INEGI, 2009).


Figure 1 presents the historical rising trend of the road traffic incidents in CDMX since the year 1997 until 2014 (the data most recently disseminated by INEGI). Therefore, the CDMX government implemented the Visión Cero program, which includes gathering, organizing and analyzing data of traffic incidents, among other actions. Articles 47 and 48 of the Mobility Law (F.D. Govt., 2014) obligate the City Government to implement two information and tracing systems: one on mobility, and other on traffic road safety. The purpose is to systematically review the execution of the Integral Programs on Mobility and on Road Safety (art. 49).


Figure 1. Road traffic incidents in urban and suburban areas in CDMX (in gray color). Source: Mr. Gerardo Rodríguez with data from INEGI (ATUS statistics, 1997 to 2014).


If no actions are applied to reduce the number of road traffic incidents in CDMX, the statistical trends in the 1997-2014 period suggest that 15,000 cases per year can be expected for 2015 (whose statistics will be informed by INEGI) and a similar number for the year 2016. In 2014, 291 incidents occurred in which there were one or more fatalities; this is 2% of 14,319 incidents. On this basis, approximately 300 incidents with fatalities can be expected in each the 2015 and 2016 years.

A desirable goal is that the information systems that are mentioned by the Mobility Law can produce open data of the road traffic incidents on a basis that is as recent as possible to real time. Nevertheless, the updating periodicity of these data will depend, mainly, on the administrative and technological processes for recording and validation that will be established by the Public Security Department (SSP) and the Mobility Department (SEMOVI).

As the Traffic Regulations in CDMX (F.D. Govt., 2014) have reduced the speed limits in a number of areas in this territory, a certain possibility of collateral effects on air pollution exists. However, research works using recent empirical data on this matter do not exist, yet. This has been confirmed to LabCDMX, via e-mail (March 17, 2016), by Prof. Ricardo Torres-Jardón, who is a researcher in the Group on Atmospheric Physical Chemistry at the Center for Atmosphere Science (CCA) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

One of the impacts of the implementation of the mentioned information system on the federal government scope will be that INEGI can use concentrated data about traffic incidents from CDMX in quantity and quality that will be greater than the currently available. This will allow INEGI achieving significant improvements on its ATUS statistics. Also, indirectly it could achieve an effect of motivating other cities in the country to set up other similar information systems.


Although diverse information sources exist on the matter of transit incidents in CDMX, SSP has determined that the Procuraduría General de Justicia (Attorney General’s Office, PGJ) is the official source to measure the efficacy of the CDMX Traffic Regulations. This source has been chosen because it is officially auditable. However, PGJ and other additional sources will be those officially used for producing statistical indicators and analyses on road traffic safety. The Mobility Law (Art. 48) states that the information for feeding the system on road traffic safety “will be generated and provided by the corresponding local government entities, in addition to those private actors that produce key information on this matter, on a monthly basis.”

In March, a work team has been established for the planning of the system on road traffic safety. The second information system (i.e. for mobility), will be addressed by the same team (or by other) in a subsequent stage. Three of the main actors in the work team are: SSP, SEMOVI and the Agencia de Gestión Urbana (Urban Management Agency, AGU). The latter includes LabCDMX and the Dirección de Inteligencia Urbana (Urban Intelligence Division). In order to achieve the goals of the work team, LabCDMX contacted the Division for Development of Government Information, Indexes and Indicators in INEGI. This Division is in charge for producing the ATUS statistics on road traffic incidents. Due to this, it has extensive methodological experience on gathering, depuration and dissemination of this type of information. This Division started its participation in the team on March 29, which has contributed to optimizing resources and time in the planning and specification of the road traffic safety information system.

Other participants in the team are: the Consejo Nacional para la Prevención de Accidentes (National Council for Accident Prevention, CONAPRA), the Observatorio de Lesiones (Injury Observatory) of the Servicios de Salud de la CDMX (CDMX Health Services), and a number of researchers from the Instituto de Geografía (Geography Institute, IGG) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM). All have an extensive experience investigating the traffic road incident phenomenon at local and national scopes. The work team is aware of the need to produce open data and this is taken into account along its planning activities. On an informal non-official fashion and with no confirmation from a specific government official, the work team subjectively estimates that the information system for road traffic safety can have a first functional prototype by the end of 2016.

Four major government sources of digital data on road traffic incidents in CDMX have been identified by the work team:

1. ATUS statistics by INEGI

2. Data on Excel worksheets from SSP

3. AGU’s web platform on CDMX road incidents

4. The Registro de Accidentes Vehiculares de México (Vehicular Accident Registry of Mexico, RAVMEX) from CONAPRA

In addition, other digital data exist in a number of private sources, such as the Asociación Mexicana de Instituciones de Seguros (Mexican Association of Insurance Companies, AMIS), SinTráfico, etc., and also in non-government organizations, such as the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), RepuBikla, etc. These digital data and platforms can facilitate the design and supplying of the system for road traffic safety. So far, RAVMEX is the platform that stores the largest number of attributes (i.e. variables) and offers the finest granularity of information on road traffic incidents. The CDMX Injury Observatory has access permissions for insertion and query into RAVMEX. However, the Observatory has presented a significant delay in its information registration process; this information is available on paper only. Recently, the Observatory obtained funds to perform the registration process from paper forms and to perform statistical analyses of the data, which is planned for the subsequent months.


The Mobility Law obligates the City Government to register data on mobility and on road traffic safety to be analyzed in order to apply preventive or corrective actions. On this basis, the main task to generate the data on road traffic incidents of CDMX is the registration of the specific (microdata) from each incident. Initially, this task is performed by the traffic police officers. Therefore, SSP has designed a paper form for manual recording of the data, a software (i.e. an app) for mobile device and a web platform (see Appendixes 2a, 2b and 2c). Currently, no funds are available to provide road traffic officers with mobile devices for these purposes. Therefore, a series of pilot tests on the use of the paper registration form will be started in a short term. In a subsequent stage, the mobile app will be used on real conditions and this will allow to introduce all these data in the information systems of SSP and SEMOVI.

INEGI, SSP and SEMOVI agree that a minimum set of attributes (i.e. variables) on traffic road incidents has to be defined in order to produce indicators and indexes on road traffic safety. These indicators and indexes are being defined by SEMOVI and SSP with assistance from the Injury Observatory, UNAM’s Geography Institute, etc. The aim is that these indicators are consistent and comparable to those of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

AGU’s Urban Intelligence Division has a certain volume of data on mobility and road incidents in general (including traffic crashes, construction and maintenance of public infrastructure, and other types of incidents). Urban Intelligence has an information system on the cloud that stores, manages and analyzes data on a series of aspects of the City public services. They produce dashboards and maps with geo-referenced information. However, Urban Intelligence needs to incorporate data from other sources (e.g. Health Services) in order to complete the information on road traffic incidents.

On the basis of international experiences, the cities in other countries that have successfully applied the Vision Zero initiative have used certain key indicators for designing and evaluating their corresponding programs. Experiences from New York City (NYC) are highly interesting to CDMX due to similarities between both cities regarding the number of inhabitants and social complexity, in addition to the fact that NYC has obtained highly encouraging results. The indicators and indexes in NYC are mainly based on the quantities of pedestrians, cyclists and automobile drivers who have been injured or died in traffic road incidents on a monthly and annual basis, including the geographic coordinates and the names of the corresponding streets or suburban roads. These data are complemented with others regarding: design of streets and suburban roads, speed limits, location of schools, senior citizen centers, taxi services, city government offices, etc. The NYC government offers open data on its Vision Zero initiative (NYC, 2016). These data start in January, 2009. One of the most important sources for recording data on traffic road incidents in NYC is a paper form that is filled by traffic police officers whenever an incident occurs (see Appendix 3).


On the basis of international experiences, it can be foreseen that the reduction of maximum speed limits in diverse areas of CDMX will reduce the number of road traffic incidents. Potential collateral effects of this reduction on the air pollution in this territory have not been quantified on empirical data, yet. While empirical data corresponding to a large enough period do not exist, only approximate calculations can be computed by using models created by using historical time series data. Thus, no empirical evidence is available to affirm that reducing the maximum speed limit will produce a significant rising in the air pollution. These and other analyses and models can be produced once data of mobility and road traffic incidents become open, along with already open data of air quality, in order to measure the general effects of the Visión Cero initiative in CDMX. Finally, the activities of the City Government team that is working on the definition of the System for Information and Tracing of Road Safety suggest that significant advancements on the opening of enriched road traffic incident data can be expected in a term less than one year.




Appendix 1b. EE-4-8 2015 form (page 2 of 2): Record form of road traffic accident in urban and suburban areas.

Source: Mr. Lázaro Trujillo, Department of Foreign Trade and Administrative Records, INEGI


Appendix 1b. EE-4-8 2015 form (page 2 of 2): Record form of road traffic accident in urban and suburban areas.

Source: Mr. Lázaro Trujillo, Department of Foreign Trade and Administrative Records, INEGI


Appendix 2a. Form for reporting a road traffic fact. Source: Public Security Dept., CDMX (page 1 of 3).

Appendix 2b. Form for reporting a road traffic fact. Source: Public Security Dept., CDMX (page 2 of 3).

Appendix 2c. Form for reporting a road traffic fact. Source: Public Security Dept. CDMX (page 3 of 3).

Appendix 3a. Form for reporting a motor vehicle accident. Source: NY State Dept. of Motor Vehicles (page 1 of 2)

Appendix 3b. Form for reporting a motor vehicle accident. Source: NY State Dept. of Motor Vehicles (page 2 of 2)




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