Road Safety Manual
A manual for practitioners and decision makers
on implementing safe system infrastructure

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8.4 Ensuring Application in Practice

Human factors issues are not as well catered for as they should be on most of the world’s roads, including those in HICs. A number of major in-depth crash investigations were carried out in the 1960s and 1970s that implicated road user behaviour as the main contributing factor in most crashes. More recently, it has come to be understood that many of these driving mistakes were as much due to deficiencies in the road system as to failings on the part of the driver. These included crashes due to inadequate sight distance, poor lighting at critical points, or road surfaces that provided less friction than the driver was expecting. These are very similar to the issues addressed by the three requirements of the PIARC HFPSP guide described in Introduction.

HICs may therefore have a large backlog of road deficiencies to rectify to ensure that human factors considerations are adequately addressed across their networks. The same is likely to be true for LMICs. However, the road system cannot be brought up to standard unless the basic design tools – the road design standards and guidelines – take account of these issues. A recent PIARC study (PIARC, 2012b) suggests that there is a long way to go before this can be achieved.

An expert human factors group examined the design standards from nine HICs and LMICs from across the world and systematically compared the advice and procedures in each standard with the specific human factors requirements which arise from the three human factors requirements described in the PIARC HFPSP guide (see Key Sources on Human Factor and Road Design in Introduction). Requirement No.1, giving the driver sufficient time to react, was best catered for, with the specific driver needs being fully discussed in 49% of cases. Requirement No. 2, ensuring the road provides a safe field of view, was least well catered for, the specific needs being fully discussed in only 9% of cases. Requirement No. 3, that the road matches the road users’ expectations, was fully discussed in 34% of cases.

It therefore appears that much work remains to be done to bring the world’s design standards up to a level where human factors issues are fully addressed and to bring the thinking of designers along with them.

Pathway to Effective Design for Road User Characteristics and Compliance

Getting started

  • Establish design standards and guidelines that incorporate established knowledge of human factors.
  • Where design standards already exist, review standards to ensure that current understanding of human factors is fully integrated.
  • Provide training for design, road operations and road management staff in human factors and Safe System principles, supported by human factors guidelines.
  • Provide basic training for police and other enforcement officers in the Safe System and evidence-based enforcement principles and methods.
  • Prepare a manual on signs and line markings which covers most of the frequently encountered situations, drawing on experience and examples from elsewhere.
  • Obtain general agreement about the importance of speed management in achieving Safe System outcomes.
  • Establish road rules that are easy to understand and are consistent with driver expectations.

Making progress

  • Application of standards and guidelines to the design of new facilities and upgrading of old facilities.
  • Creation of self-explaining roads that are matched to their function.
  • Establishment of standards for assets, both for new assets and for assets in-service based on road users’ ability to cope with different levels of asset condition; e.g. road surface characteristics, sign and road marking condition.
  • Establishment of effective school education programmes to teach appropriate road use, tailored to the needs of individual age groups; priority should be given to child pedestrian training in elementary schools.
  • Establishment of effective publicity programmes to address clearly defined behaviours, targeted at the key groups at risk; these programs should be designed to prepare road users for and to reinforce enforcement
  • Revise training and testing procedures for new drivers along graduated licensing lines.
  • Establishment of enforcement programmes addressed at specific high-risk behaviours, guided by intelligence on where and when the behaviours occur.
  • Ensure increased compliance with line markings, sign and signal controls.
  • Ensure increased seatbelt wearing; and reduced drink driving, fatigued driving and speeding.

Consolidating activity

  • Achieving consistency in design standards, signage and pavement markings across the road network.
  • Training road safety auditors in human factors principles, and application of these principles to road safety audits.
  • Extension of self-explaining roads across the network.
  • Continual progress towards a road system that meets Safe System requirements.
  • Comprehensive testing of new types of treatments before installation and evaluation after installation.
  • Creation of a comprehensive inventory of road assets and their condition, accompanied by a programme to ensure all assets are kept up to the established standards.
  • Maintenance of age-appropriate road safety programmes throughout the pre-school and school years to develop safe pedestrian behaviour and prepare for later road use.
  • Maintenance of effective publicity programmes in response to fluctuating patterns of high-risk behaviours to coordinate with enforcement activity.
  • Maintenance of high levels of intelligence-led enforcement.
  • Ensure that non-compliance with line markings, sign and signal controls is a rare exception.
  • Non-wearing of seatbelts, fatigued driving, drink driving and high-level speeding should be reduced to very low levels and moderate speeding is reduced.

 

Reference sources

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