Safety considerations for cross-sectional design of 80km/h rural roads in the Netherlands


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



Rural two lane undivided distributor roads are one of the unsafest road types in the Netherlands. The majority of severe and fatal crashes on these roads are run-off-road and head-on crashes. The cross sectional design, which is conservative by international standards plays an important role in the safety performance of these roads. Although the Dutch design guidelines for rural distributor roads are to safeguard a preferred or minimum safety level, many existing roads do not comply with these guidelines. In addition, new roads and reconstructions of existing roads are often designed to comply with the minimum standards instead of preferred standards. As the guidelines are not mandatory, road authorities sometimes opt to deviate below the minimum standards. Current Dutch design guidelines make little provision for quantifying the safety effects of design choices. The common belief is that complying with the standards in the guideline warrants a safe design. However, this is a well-known misconception. To support road designers and road administrators in making the safest design choices, the design guidelines should outline the safety considerations and, whenever possible, quantify the effects of design choices. SWOV has reviewed the Dutch rural distributor road design guidelines with specific emphasis on the relation between road safety and the cross sectional design elements. Based on international studies on different safety aspects of the cross sectional road design, several recommendations on changes of the current guidelines have been formulated and are presently being discussed with the organisations responsible for issuing the guidelines.

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Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, 22-24 June 2015, Vancouver, Canada