Closing the Gap ? Benchmarking European Roads Within EuroRAP
N Klassen, ADAC, DE; H Wahlstroem, Swedish Road Traffic Inspectorate, SE
The European Road Assessment Programme EuroRAP aims at increasing road safety by high level benchmarking of European roads and identification of major safety potentials. Results of 16,000km of inspected roads in Germany and Sweden are discussed.
In 2001 the European motoring organisations and some road authorities have started the European Road Assessment Programme EuroRAP which aims at increasing road safety by high level benchmarking of European roads, identification of major safety potentials and raising awareness of all stakeholders of the road transport system. These aims are one of steps of the motoring organisations to help the EU and European countries to reach the target value of cutting down road deaths by 50% in 2010.
Since 2003 EuroRAP is - as a sister programme to the car crash programme EuroNCAP - an official body of Belgian law covering over 30 partners - European motoring clubs, road authorities, expert members - and many regular "observers".
The EuroRAP consortium has developed two different test protocols to benchmark European roads:
1. The Risk Rate Map, which shows the individual risk to the driver by a 3-year accident rate. Further maps show e.g. the road authorities where to invest first. This protocol has been successfully applied and published in the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Catalonia, Italy and will be applied in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland and Spain.
2. The Road Protection Score RPS, which shows how the road infrastructure protects the driver from being severely injured or killed once an accident occurs. This protocol - valid for roads outside of urban areas - has been applied in Sweden and Germany covering roughly 8000km of roads each and will be applied in further countries in the near future. The inspected road infrastructure covers the aspects of front collision, run-off and intersections as well as - in the future - the measures for vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians). Prerequisites for the scoring are that the driver uses the seat belt, drives a safe car, is sober and drives within the speed limit.
The combination of the two protocols shows where - retrospective - the individual risk to the driver has been high in the past and where - prospectively - the infrastructure is very likely to protect from severe outcomes of crashes.
Tests and methodolog
In August 2004 the German automobile club ADAC has started a big road test programme in Germany using the second test protocol RPS of EuroRAP. The first step of the test programme includes the main motorways in Germany covering 6000km of roads and a random sample of 2000km of National and Federal State Roads (Bundes- and Landesstraen). The Swedish EuroRAP partners have also inspected 8000km of roads in the year 2004.
The technology used has been developed by the Swedish National Road Administration SNRA and is being used since several years in Sweden. For the use within EuroRAP the soft- and hardware has been developed to meet the needs of a Pan-European road inspection
During an inspection the inspector records road side features via digitising tablet. The position of the feature is recorded automatically and translated into a geographic co-ordinate in the road map. Based on all attributes a routine calculates the scoring for each of the main types of accidents (head-on, run-off, intersection). Multiplied with an average European weighting factor the three scorings for head-on, run-off and intersection protection are summed to a total score for the road section which is usually 10 to 15km long.
The sections are rated with stars - from 1 star (low protection level) to 4 stars (high protection level).
The first results of the inspections in Germany and Sweden show:
1) The developed test protocol RPS covers the main aspects of forgiving road design. Future development will expand the list of attributes to be inspected as well as covering further user groups such as cyclists and pedestrians.
2 The results in Sweden show that lower scorings for the road design correlate with a higher number of fatal accidents. Road sections with four stars can also have fatal accidents but the accident records show that it is very unlikely that the outcome of the accident is caused by road design. Matching the RPS scoring with accident data must be performed in larger networks to further develop the test protocol and the underlying risk matrix and get insights of the stability of the scoring
3 The scoring with stars provides valuable input for the public as well as for experts. Depending on the target group it is possible to communicate an overall scoring for one road section or show the detailed scoring for the three types of accidents and the geo-coded information for each single inspected attribute. Based on this detailed information responsible road administrations can start with more detailed analysis such as black-spot management and traffic accident commissions and other procedures
4 The communication of results and actions needs co-operation between tester and administrations to discuss and initiate actions to increase road safety and cut down road deaths and serious injuries.
Inspecting roads with the developed RPS protocol provides very valuable high-level information of road safety in complex and dense road networks. Based on this it is possible to communicate with all stakeholders, discover the main problems in the road network, develop measures and procedures to increase road safety on the roads and take actions to help drivers to survive when accidents occur.
Association for European Transport