In 2001 the European Commission defined an ambitious objective in their Road Safety Policy, aiming to halve the number of fatalities in the EU15 from over 40 000 to 20 000 in 2010.
Reaching this objective means improving or implementing urgently a great variety of safety measures: besides ongoing development processes in the field of car safety (e.g. Human-Machine-Interface, driver assistance), there is also the need to exhaust the reduction potentials of road infrastructure safety measures.
Road infrastructure related safety measures offer a large potential that could be exploited in view of a significant reduction of road accidents and their consequences. Considering that most casualties occur on single carriageway rural roads, RIPCORD-ISEREST focused on road infrastructure measures for this type of road.
The fundamental objective of RIPCORD-ISEREST was to develop best practice guidelines based upon the current research results for:
- Road Safety Impact Assessment tools and Accident Prediction Models
- Road Design and Road Environment
- Road Safety Audit
- Road Safety Inspection
- Black Spot Management and Safety Analysis of Road Networks.
With these tools, RIPCORD-ISEREST intended to give scientific support to practitioners concerned with road design and traffic safety in Europe.
Furthermore, regarding safety interventions, secondary roads have so far had much less attention than primary roads and motorways, even though a large proportion of fatalities in rural areas occur on secondary roads. Still, design guidelines for these types of roads rarely existed within Europe. As a result, a great number of these roads are in a state which is inappropriate to modern road traffic. To fill this gap, RIPCORD-ISEREST developed a Safety Handbook for Secondary Roads.
The RIPCORD-ISEREST project followed five basic stages:
- A 'Road Safety Impact Assessment' provided a proposal for typical procedures applying to Road Safety Impact Assessment (RIA) and Accident Prediction Models (APM) in different settings, assessed the safety impact of changes in road networks and, within a network, changes in the design of road links and intersections or specific (dynamic) traffic management measures.
- The second Stage developed a Best Practice methodology applied to Road Design and Road Environment - to work out measures to reduce the number and severity of accidents on sections of single carriageway rural roads. In the same vein, this Stage also worked out best practice guidelines on Road Safety Audit, Road Safety Inspection, Black Spot Management, and Safety Analysis of Road Networks. These guidelines also incorporated future aspects, such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.
- The next Stage was concerned with the development of robust analytical tools. First, the project built a 'Best Practice Safety Information System', based on an inventory of best practice information about road safety improvement gathered from all EU Member States and also an international background. Next, the project built a Road User Behaviour Model - testing the transferability and integration of different models regarding human behaviour in road traffic, using the results of a simulator experiment.
- Using the analytical tools built in Stage 3, the project carried out the development of new analytic Safety Performance Functions for analysis and evaluation of secondary road safety. These tools were then incorporated in a GIS-based Decision Support Safety Tool - development of a practical management tool to assist road managers and other decision-makers on a regional level regarding road safety intervention measures.
- Lastly, the project conducted a field test to validate intervention strategies and measures for safety improvement on secondary roads. This allowed for the preparation of a Safety Handbook for Secondary Roads, relevant to the local, regional, national and EU level and targeted towards the achievement of a well functioning and safe secondary road system.
RIPCORD-ISEREST gave scientific support to the European transport policy road-safety target of 2010 by establishing two fundamental achievements:
- Best practice tools and guidelines for road infrastructure safety measures concerning accident prediction models, road-safety inspections, and black-spot management.
- Tools for cost-efficiency assessment of different safety measures in order to develop and manage a safe road infrastructure in a cost-effective way.
The project reached these two results in a harmonised way, building a 'common practice' approach for accident prediction models, road-safety audits, road safety inspections and black-spot management.
Considering half of all road traffic fatalities and injuries in rural areas in Europe occur on secondary roads, the project developed specific software tools and a handbook for local road authorities.
Key technical outputs were:
- An in-depth survey of the Accident Prediction Models (APM) and Road-Safety Impact Assessment literature. The project concluded that APM can differ for the same road-type in different countries, therefore paving the way for novel recommendations regarding the way these instruments can be used by practitioners.
- A focus on the concept of 'Self-explaining roads', a road designed and built in such a way as to induce adequate behaviour on behalf of the motorist. The project forwarded road-design recommendations concerning the layout and design-elements of secondary roads, incorporating road-user behaviour models.
- The project developed SEROES, a freely accessible database for road-authorities responsible for secondary roads, containing the 'Best Practice Safety Information System', a summary of information regarding road-safety improvements. In a further step, SEROES was demonstrated together with the Decision Support Safety Tool. These decision-tools provided the user with several solutions, a cost-range, and information about the effect of each of the provided measures.
- A GIS Decision Support Tool was developed to assist local and regional road authorities to determine road safety problems, select appropriate safety intervention measures, and provides the opportunity to predict the road safety level of a municipality/region and the cost-effectiveness of road safety projects.
In general terms, the RIPCORD-ISEREST project, through its recommendations and technical developments, contributed to setting standards and practical tools for European local road managers. In particular, the project addressed the following policy issues, highlighting them with tools and recommendations:
- Regulatory actions necessary for on Safety Impact Assessment (new roads - pre-design phase;
- Safety Audits (new roads - design, construction & early operational phases);
- Network Safety Management - management of 'High accident concentration sections' on existing roads);
- Safety Inspections (existing roads).
Moreover, the project set up recommendations in a Safety Handbook for Secondary Roads, outlining organisational and implementation aspects of road safety. From a local policy point of view, the project's tools allow road-safety results to be compared with road safety goals made by regional or national policy-makers, thus allowing for a 'fine-tuning' of road-safety infrastructure design and European-wide comparisons.