Consultation on road safety and infrastructure
The Hague, The Netherlands – It is the EU´s aim to half the number of fatalities on European roads by 2010 (from 50 000 to 25 000). Road accidents have still caused 41.600 deaths on EU roads in 2005. Infrastructure management has a great impact on road safety. The Directorate General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission opened a public consultation on their approach to road infrastructure safety management. All interested parties are invited to contribute their opinion on the issue. The consultation closes on 19 May 2006.
The EU road safety action programme targets three areas:
- driver behaviour;
- vehicle safety standards;
- safer infrastructure.
The focus of this consultation is on road safety in relation to the quality of the infrastructure. Present road designs result from many decades of construction and maintenance, in a time when safety issues were not always considered to the same extent. Today, several road features no longer meet the latest safety requirements. Moreover, traffic conditions may have changed since the road was designed and built.
Roads are usually designed according to criteria concerning urban or regional planning, travel time, user comfort and convenience, fuel consumption, construction cost and environmental impact. Safety is often implicitly assumed to be achieved by simply adhering to prescribed standards of alignment and layout. Experience shows that abiding by those standards is not sufficient to avoid hazardous features. Many lives could be saved and many accidents avoided if the existing road infrastructure was managed according to the best practice of safety engineering.
In the consultation paper three policy options are presented. Participants are invited to reflect on these policy options by addressing a set of five questions.