Fewer crashes and fewer casualties by safer roads

Contribution to the international symposium 'Halving Road Deaths' organized by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences, November 28, 2003, Tokyo


Wegman, Fred



Human errors play a vital role in road crashes. This presentation deals with the prevention of human errors by proper road planning, road design and improving existing roads (reconstruction/rehabilitation/resurfacing). Road safety considerations must play an explicit role in decision making in all three areas. Our knowledge about the relationships between road and traffic characteristics and road safety has increased enormously in the last decades, and we can apply this knowledge in decisions related to planning, design and operations. Different procedures are available or will be developed to use this knowledge in actual decision making. In road planning for example, a road safety impact assessment should be made in order to take road safety transparently into consideration. A minimum safety level should be defined and agreed upon between road authorities. Defining such a level has started in the Netherlands and we call this 'Sustainable safety'. This concept focuses on three design principles: functionality, homogeneity, and predictability. These principles are introduced briefly in this presentation. If we implement 'Sustainable safety', we expect to build a considerably safer road traffic system by reducing human errors, taking into account limits given by human tolerances in crashes and eliminating 'preventable crashes'. Of course, public support needs to be created in order to get this challenging concept implemented and accepted by the population. Integration with other road safety policies is considered crucial.

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