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Innovative systems and frameworks for enhancing of traffic safety in road tunnels

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The problem of road tunnel safety raised dramatically in 1999 after the Mont-Blanc tragedy. The whole society and specifically road operators started an intense activity of  analysis and granted huge investments in order to elaborate strategies and introduce new equipments aimed to avoid similar disasters. Tunnel is a particular environment and each abnormal event creates a potentially dangerous situation. From an analysis of  Frejus Tunnel data, in the year 2000 happened 482 incidents of which 281 were due to mechanic failures, 82 were caused by fuel tanks empty, 23  involved  property damage only accidents, 1 was  a collision involving  1 injured person, 34 were  fire incidents  and 47 were  incidents which had other or unknown causes. The introduction of measures capable to prevent failures inside the tunnel has consequently the possibility to significantly improve this situation.

From another perspective electronics, information and communication technology are more and more pervasive also in the automotive environment. A  new generation of telematic systems  based on open platform, able to host third party software and to download new applications along all the life cycle of the vehicle, are going to be launched in the next two years. Vehicle Telematics, originally conceived for infotainment application, may consequently enable new functions for mobility and safety.


Safe Tunnel project was conceived to contribute to the reduction of  the overall number of accidents and incidents inside road tunnels through the introduction of a set of preventive safety measures made possible by the integration of on board vehicle devices and ITS infrastructures using the public wireless network as a communication  link.


To implement the four applications (prognosis, access and vehicle control, telecontrol and distribution of emergency messages) the project has operated at different levels: vehicle, infrastructure, communication network.

The project started with the user analysis and passed through the different steps of specification, design and implementation as a continuous up to the validation/evaluation phase. In order to improve project efficiency there was some overlap among different phases and specific functionality were implemented and tested as soon as specifications and prototypes were ready, using an incremental process  that allowed to recover misalignment among partners and gradually create the total system. Many feedbacks from testing phases were also taken into account at specification  and implementation level.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Comission, DG Information Society
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Four applications have been developed:

  • Prognostic (improvement of current vehicle diagnosis introducing the capability to forecast faults).
  • Access and vehicle control (communication of vehicle diagnostic data in case of anomalies to a control center through a GSM/GPRS link . The control center may inhibit the access to the risky vehicle or in any case suggest the best action to the driver).
  • Tlecontrol of vehicle speed and distance (communication of recommended speed and safety from the control center to the vehicle through a GSM/GPRS link and on-board actuation of the received commands. As alternative to cover the unequipped vehicles the feasibility of the Moving spot light system has been performed).
  • Distribution of emergency messages to the driver (use of the communication link and an HMI to distribute emergency messages  to the driver in order to obtain a safer operation and more easily control the traffic flow in case of  emergency). 

Technical Implications

Further improvement of algorithms and protocols, larger trial organisation and promotion of a standardization committee linked and operating with International standard organisations covering  the different aspects of the system. This activity should also examine the commonality with other currently developed or new coming applications using the same vehicle-infrastructure cooperation approach. It is estimated that this phase should cover at least the next two years and could be carried out still by a restricted consortium possibly involving some new partners especially from tunnel management side. Following the further research/standardisation phase the engineering should start. In this phase the systems should be implemented by different entities following the standard produced.

Policy implications

Although the system may be introduced with bottom-up approach on a voluntary basis acting on the need of safety of road users through a correct explanation of the advantages of the system the real boost mat be obtained through the set-up of a common European directive linked to electronic fee collection and e-call or other e-safety initiatives.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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