The aspect of safety in tunnels has been regulated in France since 2000 with an Inter-ministerial Circular and at European level with Directive 2004/54/EC. Despite these regulative provisions and advancements in available tools and technologies, driver behaviour does not always meet the desired optimum in terms of tunnel safety. In order to face this issue, Autoroutes Alpines, bringing together the companies Autoroutes Rhône-Alpes (AREA), Autoroutes et Tunnel du Mont Blanc (ATMB) and the Société Française du Tunnel Routier du Fréjus (SFTRF) and the Daedalus company, started the project ACTEURS in December 2002. The project was developed in two phases.
The project investigated the issue of road safety in tunnels with the aim of better understanding users’ interaction and their behaviour in relation to different situations they may encounter and also to derive suggestions and proposal for the construction of new tunnel infrastructures or for more efficient operations. When considering highly-equipped infrastructures, enabling drivers to be self-conscious of risks they may encounter and reducing their aggressive behaviour and their sense of anxiety are two crucial issues that might increase the general level of security on the whole road network in the future.
ACTEURS was structured in many specific studies dedicated to a better comprehension of the users’ reaction towards both normal and critical situations. Users are distinguished in cars and heavy vehicles’ drivers and also tunnels are classified in short and highway tunnels or long tunnels. This segmentation allows to suggest proper solutions to drivers enabling them to be actors of their own safety and security.
ACTEURS defined different users’ behavioural patterns in road tunnels and investigated their reactions in relation to infrastructure design principles, informative or risk alert instruments focused on drivers.
The ACTEURS project Phase 1 confirmed the existence of a gap between the expectations of tunnels operators and behaviour and reactions of the users in tunnels.
Some ideas have been proposed to improve the relation tunnels/operators/ users: i.e. designing safety policies that can be realistically adopted, adapting the tunnel environment to users’ limitations and capacities; informing users on tunnel safety aspects and verifying the effectiveness of the relation between these three elements by integrating feedbacks and experience.
The Phase 2 of the project produced 27 detailed results covering different domains: regulation, exploitation procedures, informative tools for signals, training of drivers and operators, etc. These further results contribute to improve the knowledge on users and their behaviours, to implement concrete actions towards a full integration of the elements devoted to tunnels, operators and users and to allow partner companies to improve their strategies.