Express roads in Europe

Research in the framework of the European research project SAFESTAR, Workpackages 3.2 ; 3.3


Schagen, Drs. I.N.L.G. van



Express roads are a rather miscellaneous road category hierarchically situated between motorways and ordinary single carriageway interurban roads. In general, the safety record of express roads is bad, in particular when compared to motorways. Nevertheless, they exist, and they will continue to exist. For example, express roads will form an integral part of the Trans European Road Network (TERN). The current report reports on part of the work carried out in the framework of SAFESTAR Working Package 3: - an inventory in a number of EU Member States on the current status and characteristics of road which could be classified as express roads; - an inventory of the decision making process and an interview on a Dutch case; - an expert workshop on express roads identifying the main design elements affecting their safety level. It is concluded that express-type roads exist in most EU countries. However, they are often named differently and can often be found in more than one road category of the national classification system. Cross sectional design and intersection design differ widely as well, both between countries and within countries. This makes it impossible to define an express road in terms of geometric design characteristics. However, it was possible to define an express road in terms of its functional characteristics: a medium to high capacity road for long distance traffic with limited access and closed for non-motorised traffic The main elements affecting the safety level of express roads were identified as cross section design (in particular separating opposing traffic streams), intersection design, and road side design. The decision on the type of road appears to be mainly based on (expected) traffic volumes and financial resources. Occasionally, environmental considerations play a role as well. Safety arguments hardly play a role at all.

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Report number



20 + 9


SWOV, Leidschendam