Absence of paved shoulders


Goldenbeld, Ch.; Schermers, G.; Petegem, J.W.H. van



A road shoulder is the section of a roadway that lies immediately adjacent to the travel lane (or driven carriageway). The absence of a paved shoulder has been identified as a risk factor in studies on two-lane rural highways. Paved shoulders may increase safety by providing a recovery area for drivers who have left the travelled lane and a place for a driver to maneuver to avoid crashes. However, shoulders may increase crash risk by conflicts caused by vehicles stopped on the shoulder and by inviting higher speeds. Most studies showed that the absence of paved shoulder was associated with an increase in crashes. One study showed that although the presence of shoulders was associated with decreases in injury and property damage crashes, it was also associated with increases in fatal crashes. Another study showed that the presence of paved shoulders was associated with larger safety effects than the presence of unpaved shoulders. In general , the evidence suggests that paved shoulders reduce total and shoulder-related crashes, but the possible speed enhancing effect of (wide) paved shoulders may increase fatal crashes.

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European Road Safety Decision Support System, developed by the H2020 project SafetyCube




European Commission, Brussels