The Safe System design principles outlined in The Safe System Approach anticipate that, over time, road authorities embracing the Safe System will ensure the infrastructure and road environment support a safe outcome for road users making errors, and take better account of human crash tolerance thresholds.
Policies, guidelines and programmes need to be developed to ensure progressive advancement towards a network embodying Safe System principles and outcomes. To emphasise the change in approach which the community will come to expect of its road authority, a current comparison from Sweden between the Safe System/Vision Zero approach and a traditional road safety approach as presented in Table 7.1 is instructive.
The progressive adoption of Safe System goals and strategies within the operational practice of road authorities requires considerable investment in knowledge, skills, and policy and guideline development, both by the road authority as an entity and by individual staff.
More road authorities are recognising the major implications that adoption of a Safe System has. The role of the road authority is to provide a safe network that will require the progressive reduction of the traditional trade-offs that have historically been made between safety on the one hand, and mobility and access on the other. Rather than trade-offs, ‘win-win’ outcomes are required and need to be planned over time.
Support for infrastructure safety investment in order to achieve non-fatal crash risk conditions across the network will become the priority. This is likely to result in substantial increases in the influence of the safety-focused infrastructure compared to other road safety programmes.
Road authorities (and all road safety agencies) have to recognise that the framework for understanding and managing crash risk has to be thoroughly rethought. Existing knowledge of the new framework and responsibilities for determining and responding to crash risk in many LMICs is inadequate.
As an illustration of authorities recognising the need to make this major adjustment, and in doing so, Slovenian road safety authorities (Zajc, 2014) express their new approach as shown in Box 7.2.
The driver was treated like a potential delinquent.
Now: The traffic system must accommodate the driver.
The driver is a victim of the traffic system because she/he has a limited capability for processing all traffic information. The system must be simple so that the driver makes less mistakes. When the driver makes mistakes the system must forgive him and reduce the consequences.
Source: Zajc (2014).
On the other hand, an indicative example of the lack of adequate understanding of crash risk and appropriate good practice responses within the activities of two road authorities is set out in Box 7.3.
The approach adopted in Argentina to implement a Safe System focus is explained in the following case study (Box 7.4).
The Solution: The ANSV’s federal role was institutionalized through its establishment as decentralized lead agency with financial autonomy within the Ministry of Interior, and ANSV’s “ownership” of road safety issues was legitimated through positive partnerships with provincial and local governments, as well as NGOs and private sector. For enforcement of traffic safety laws, the ANSV was assigned with the responsibility to promote and coordinate traffic control and supervision of police and security forces in all jurisdictions. The ANSV also designed and implemented province by province a national registry systems for driver’s licenses, traffic records, and infractions.
To build the results management platform, the ANSV invested in road safety monitoring systems and analysis tools through the launching of a National Road Safety Observatory. The Observatory developed a comprehensive crash data management system incorporating best practices guidelines outlined by the OECD’s International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) using a peer-based mentoring program with the OECD countries.
The Outcome: Between 2008 and 2014, fatalities from road crashes for every 100,000 inhabitants in the country have decreased from 14.5 to 12 (17%); and deaths every 10,000 vehicles did so by 43%, from 3.7 to 2.1, during the same period. Also, with regards to behavioural led aspects, drivers wearing seat-belt increased a 36% from 2011 to 2014; and motorcycle helmet usage increased from 39% to 62% in the same period.
Source: Veronica Raffo and Tony Bliss, “The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020: Lessons from Argentina”, En breve N°180, World Bank, December 2012.
Implementing Safe System principles on major new road projects and, particularly, delivering improvement in the safety levels of the existing network over time will require, among other measures, adequate controls on roadside access and roadside activity to be put in place. Necessary powers and government actions to regulate abutting land use development and roadside activities on existing roads for this purpose will be required.
Processes to assess the safety impact of any proposed land use development need to be established between the road authority and local governments. Potential safety issues need to be identified, and a range of responses developed as potential development conditions in order to minimise future harm. These processes need to be given authority within land use planning and local government legislation.
Laws to support improved compliance by the public with the decisions of the road authority/local government in these matters will be required, and these need to be enforced. Consideration is required of incentives to be introduced to encourage local government to adhere to their land use planning policies. It is most important that the stakeholders understand and accept the need for legislation to control this development and that the road authority:
Box 5 sets out a case study that addresses a number of highly relevant safety concerns in many LMICs for so-called linear settlements. These common situations reflect inadequate public administration powers (or their lack of application), leading to highly unsafe road environments especially for vulnerable road users.
Vulnerable road users are not the only ones at serious risk. Poorly planned U-turn provision or inadequate physical restrictions on U-turns along LMIC highways are a major cause of serious casualty crashes, especially among the passengers of public transport mini buses (e.g. in Egypt). These U-turn gaps and permitted operations are a disaster for road safety. This is a deeply embedded characteristic of the road network in LMICs and requires action across many road authorities in achieving adequate local government development planning to support safe road right-of-way management.
The solution: measures required based on good HIC practice include:
Source: Adapted from Vollpracht (2010).
Linear settlement roads result in unsafe conditions, with pedestrians and vehicles entering and exiting the road from each (continuously) abutting property frontage. Safe System principles indicate that each property entry to a roadway functions as a minor intersection, with the possibility of right-angle crashes involving vehicles entering or leaving the carriageway colliding with vehicles travelling along the road. These situations compromise efforts in many jurisdictions to devise a consistent road classification system applying along lengths of road. A further example highlighting solutions for addressing linear settlements is provided in Box 7.6.
A strategy to address these risks was proposed with two components:
1. An express road system with a 2 + 1 lane cross-section bypassing villages and towns can nearly halve the price for motorways and will be sufficient for traffic volumes up to 20,000 vehicles/day. So the main and safe arterials in Republika Srpska can be built up much earlier than the planned motorway system. They can be widened later, as soon as the traffic volume needs a second carriageway.
2. Adapt the existing main and regional roads within linear settlements to a mixed use function by traffic calming and providing safety for non-motorised users.
Source: Kostic et al. (2013)
As outlined above, unauthorised activities carried out on the roadsides, especially on heavily trafficked routes, need to be regulated and managed to minimise adverse safety impacts for road users. This is an area of considerable weakness in many LMICs, with traders and vendors occupying the road reserve, setting up goods and stalls. In urban areas, traders’ goods and itinerant vendors take over the footpaths, forcing pedestrians to use the road for walking. There is often little management of this unauthorised use by the local government authorities or the police. It is a major challenge for road authorities to obtain the attention of government and gain their support to change the situation. However, there are successful examples in LMICs of local governments negotiating relocations of street vendors to public market spaces, re-established away from the main roads to improve safety.
Adoption of an increasingly safety sensitive road classification for the network that better matches road function, speed limit, layout and design is an important aspiration. As noted above, linear urban development is a characteristic of most LMICs and tends to confound this classification approach. Planning to progress toward the long-term goal of segregation of road use functions and improvement in operating safety is important for Safe System adoption. Suitable planning can guide future road investment (for example in provision of bypass roads) and the associated safety retrofitting of existing roads for their access or distributor functions.
As indicated earlier (see Safe System : Scientific Safety Principles and their Application), the Sustainable Safety approach from the Netherlands places a heavy emphasis on a strong road classification system. Road functionality is embedded in the approach, and it is suggested that roads should have a single function, whether this be as through roads, distributor roads, or access roads. This concept has been well understood for many years, but in more recent years there has been an increased recognition that more needs to be done to ensure this distinction is made. This includes providing an appropriate classification system, allocating all roads to this, and ensuring that the design, and understanding by road users is consistent with this function. Further information is provided on this issue in The Basics: Road user Capacities and Behaviours in Designing Infrastructure to Encourage Safe Behavior, including a discussion on ‘self-explaining roads’ to support road user understanding of this functional classification.