SWOV Catalogus


Infrastructure safety in Europe : evaluation of the results of the questionnaire : high level expert meeting on infrastructure safety, Vienna, Hofburg, January 24-25, 2006.
20072188 ST CD-ROM
Weiss, V. & Eichinger, E.M.
Wien, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (BMVIT), 2006, CD-ROM [85 p.]

Samenvatting The improvement of road safety and the implementation of measures necessary to minimize the number of victims is one of the central tasks of most European countries. In this context, providing safe road infrastructure throughout Europe is one of the crucial subjects, as estimates are that for one in three fatal accidents infrastructure is a major contributing factor. That is why road safety activities under the slogan “Crossing borders in road safety – Creating a Trans-European Road Safety Culture” were put very high on the agenda during the Austrian EU presidency. To deal with infrastructure safety related subjects a High Level Expert Meeting was organized in Vienna on January 24-25, 2006. In preparation of this High Level Expert Meeting on “Infrastructure Safety” a questionnaire on road safety related issues and instruments for infrastructure safety management was sent out to the invited countries. Experts from 26 countries answered this questionnaire. Without their commitment and their specialized knowledge this report, which summarizes the results of the questionnaire and gives an overview on state-of-the-art and best practice in infrastructure safety management, would not have been possible. The report clearly shows which instruments are used in the different European countries and at which stage of the planning/building/maintaining process they are applied. Road infrastructure safety management has a long history in Europe. Some of the tools, like Road Safety Inspection, were already developed in the 1960’s. Back then these instruments were only used by a few countries. But over the last decades, and especially during the last 15 years, most countries implemented a range of different instruments. Today Road Safety Audit (RSA), Road Safety Inspection (RSI) and High Risk Road Section (Black Spot) Management are already widespread. More recently developed tools like Road Safety Impact Assessment (RIA) and Network Safety Management have – until now – only been implemented by a few countries. Also the European Commission has underlined the importance of a safe infrastructure in all European countries and has announced to take concrete action on road infrastructure safety in its White Paper on Future European Transport Policy (2001), and again in its Communication on a European Road Safety Action Programme (2003). Besides the vehicle and the driver, infrastructure is the third pillar of any comprehensive road safety work. Much progress has been brought about in terms of passive vehicle safety, where car occupants of newer vehicles run a much lower risk of death or severe injury in case of a crash than ten years ago. Test and training requirements have been gradually increased during the past ten years in order to ensure that European drivers are in a position to cope with the dangers of road traffic. Also, the Commission has proposed action on the enforcement of traffic rules, where it is known that speeding, non-wearing of seat belts and drink-driving present the main causes of death on our roads. As far as safety of road infrastructure is concerned no such joint effort has been taken yet at the European level. Member states have called for a high level of safety on the trans-European roads in the TEN guidelines of 1996. At the same time, budgets are cut on road infrastructure and road users feel more and more uneasy with the quality and level of safety they encounter on the roads. In times of restraint budget capacities Cost-Benefit-Analysis and Cost-Effectiveness-Analysis become more and more important decision criteria for the choice of where and how to act. Many road authorities feel the dilemma between budget constraints and their task to provide an infrastructure corresponding to the state-of-the-art in road safety. More and more they have to defend themselves in court against citizens that have suffered from injuries in accidents. Thus, providers of road infrastructure should be given the guidelines, training and the information they need to avoid unnecessary safety risks in their road networks. It should be ensured that road safety is integrated in all phases of road planning, design and operation of road infrastructure. Safety should be regarded in its own right apart from economic and environmental analysis. The underlying philosophy should be the self-explaining road and the forgiving road side. The former stresses the need to design, equip and sign a road according to the needs and capabilities of the user in order to prevent dangerous situations from happening. The latter acknowledges that in a dangerous situation, where the driver has no longer control over his or her vehicle, he still should have a chance of not getting seriously injured. The users should be put in the centre of infrastructure policy and all services should be provided for them. (Author/publisher)
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