Designing Roads for Safety

Designing Roads for Safety

IRF President Bill Halkias joined other notable speakers such as Joy Kabatsi Kafura, State Minister of Transport of Uganda for a panel discussion on “Designing Roads for Safety” hosted in the official programme of the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference, Stockholm on 19-20 February 2020.

Pillar 2 of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action addresses safer roads and mobility. The road infrastructure industry invests over US$ 700 billion a year in the management, construction and maintenance of new and existing roads. Road design standards and layouts provide the foundation for all interactions between road users and road features. iRAP CEO Rob McInerney, who opened up the session, remarked that for the majority of road traffic crashes which result in deaths and injuries – head-on collisions, run-off road crashes, collisions at intersections and crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – engineering and traffic management solutions exist. The inherent safety and protective quality of road networks which benefit all road users should be prioritised, especially for the most vulnerable.

This will be achieved through the implementation of various road infrastructure agreements under the United Nations framework, independent road infrastructure assessments and audits in support of the Global Road Safety Performance Targets 3 and 4, and investment in safety-conscious planning, design, construction and operation of roads. “Every new road should focus on road safety for all users” stated the Ugandan Minister of Transport. Governments and road authorities should identify and eliminate all high-risk roads, by improving the safety performance for all road users.

(L-R) Andre Dzikus, Karen Vancluysen, Rob McInerney, Bill Halkias, Joy Kabatsi Kafura,
Claude Van Rooten

Pillar 2 of the UN Road Safety Collaboration Group, which IRF co-chairs, recently released the “Ten Step Plan for Safer Road Infrastructure”, which represents one of the tools offering guidance to countries seeking to implement initiatives in relation to the “Improved safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks and the achievement of UN Member States Agreed Global Targets 3 and 4 for safer new and existing roads.

The benefits of reaching these targets are huge – if Targets 3 and 4 are met by 2030, 450’000 lives could be saved a year and 100 million deaths and serious injuries would be saved over 20 years. For every $1 invested, $8 will be saved.

(L-R) Andre Dzikus, Karen Vancluysen, Rob McInerney,
Bill Halkias, Joy Kabatsi Kafura, Claude Van Rooten

IRF President Bill Halkias mentioned how design is crucial for safe roads and provided the example that many European motorways are especially designed, built and operated according to the highest quality and technological standards, in order to guarantee drivers the best safety conditions around the clock, alongside high levels of service and driving comfort in all weather conditions. Mr. Halkias linked this with the importance of “impact investing” from the private sector and how this can pay off. ASECAP, the European Association of Tollway Operators, for example reports that between 2001 and 2017, the fatality rate on the toll motorway network administered by their members decreased by 64%, taking the fatality rate to 2.3 fatalities per billion kilometre driven on their motorway network.

Coming out of the discussion, it is evident that certain solutions and resources for safer road design are already well known. Context-appropriate planning, design, operation and road speed management represent core elements of the process, with city streets evidently requiring different treatment to motorways. Further, low cost treatments do exist and can be used by all countries, such as better delineation, rumble strips, traffic calming and so on. Overall, a holistic approach to designing the transport system must be applied, for example the design of the public transport stations must take into account the provision of safe facilities for pedestrians and other active road users to access these stations. Sharing knowledge and expertise remains essential within countries and internationally.

The session further included panellists from UN Habitat and POLIS and was moderated by the President of PIARC, Claude van Rooten.

Sessions’ summary, recordings, pictures available on: