Specific safety measures for emergency lanes and shoulders of motorways

A proposal for motorways' authorities in the framework of the European research project SAFESTAR, Workpackage 1.1


Braimaister, Dr. Ir. L.



This workpackage is one of seven workpackages of the European SAFESTAR project, launched by DG VII. Directing on safety standards and recommendations for the Trans-European Roadway Network (TERN), the workpackage considered safety measures on emergency lanes (stopping strips), which are inherent facilities of the TERNmotorways. Giving space for emergency stops and making the carriageway of a motorway safer, the emergency lane contains its own additional elements of accident risk. Multiple-vehicle accidents, (when at least one of the involved vehicles was entering, on, or leaving the emergency lane of the motorway), are seldom, but extremely serious. This workpackage activity consists of the following four tasks: - a survey of existing views and policies on the subject emergency lanes and shoulders of motorways; - surveys of relevant research results, including indepth analyses of road accidents and behavioural studies of road users; - an actual risk estimation of accidents on emergency lanes of motorways in EUcountries; - a formulation of recommendations. The survey of international national standards on emergency lanes has shown a lot of differences between basic norms and standards in the EU- countries. The data, guidelines, norms and differences between European countries are collected by means of data requests and interviews with specialists from most EU-countries: - basic geometric standards of emergency lanes, and the actual percentage of motorways equipped with emergency lanes; - spacing of emergency phones along motorways; - operational rules on the use of emergency lanes; - the spacing of rest areas with parking facilities; - the spacing of service and accommodation areas. There are also some deviating practices found in different countries when segments of the emergency lane are used for other purposes than usual, such as: an additional lane during the rushhours; a separated lane for public buses; an additional lane when the opposite direction of the road is under reconstruction. These measures are relatively new and there is no evidence pro or contra because of the lack of accident data. Further monitoring of such deviating practices in EUcountries is recommended. Risk figures were estimated for accidents on emergency lanes in the EU by using IRTAD- and CARE-databases, and available in-depths studies in the UK and the Netherlands, The accuracy of the estimation is limited by the lack of in-depth studies in EU-countries. In order to retrieve the needed multiple-vehicle accidents the databases have to proceed rather sophisticated data manipulations taking into account the initial and final position and manoeuvres of the vehicles that are involved in accidents. Only few European countries have this facilities. Totally, about 65,000 injury accidents (causing 3,500 deaths) happen each year on approximately 40,500 kilometres of motorways in 15 EU-countries. An estimation of multiple-vehicle accidents on emergency lanes of these motorways showed at least about 1,000 of such accidents and about 300 road deaths each year on motorways in EUcountries. The severity of such accidents is more than five times higher than average. On Dutch motorways the presence of obstacles on emergency lanes has been investigated by field observations and behavioural studies. Using the databases of the Royal Dutch Touringclub ANWB and field observations, the density of broken down cars per road kilometre were obtained. The frequency of breakdowns strongly depends the time of day. For instance at 6 am, there is about one broken down car every 70 kilometre and at 9 pm, there is about one broken-down car every 33 kilometre on the emergency lane. In total every 12,4 kilometre there are obstacles found on the emergency lanes: mostly work zones, stopped cars, and very seldom pedestrians). For a more accurate and deep estimation of multiple-vehicle accidents on emergency lanes, a sample inventory study on motorways of EU-countries should be launched. The Dutch technics for in-depth accident analysis can be recommended, also for the continuation and extension of this research in other EU-countries

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