Harmonisation of Road Signs and Markings on the Trans-European Road Network to Improve Road Safety in the EU
Mikko Räsänen, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, FI; Tim Horberry, TRL , UK
This work considers improving traffic safety on the Trans European Road Network by the harmonisation of fixed traffic signs and road markings. It summarises where traffic signing and marking changes are expected to have road safety benefits.
In some situations, traffic signs and highway markings can be an exceedingly cost-effective way of improving road safety. To be effective, road signs should be seen, understood and heeded by drivers. However, it is also important for there to be consistency and uniformity between signs carrying the same information. With the continuing rise of trans-European road traffic this consistency and uniformity often needs to extend beyond national borders.
This presentation considers the possibilities for improving traffic safety on the Trans European Road Network (TERN) by the harmonisation of fixed traffic signs and road markings in EU countries. Based on previous accident figures, and information about the roads defined to be part of the TERN, the total number of fatal accidents in the EU on this network was calculated to be almost 5,000 per annum. Likewise, a high number of injury accidents on the TERN were also found.
The study described here was commissioned by the EC and involved partners from seven major transport research institutes across Europe. It first comprised a review of earlier harmonisation work at a supra-national level (including the Vienna Convention, 1968) and a major survey of road signing and marking practices among EU countries. Following that, it evaluated and classified differences in road signing in the EU based on their likely driver behavioural effects; this produced a list of over 20 harmonisation needs. Then the effects of these differences on traffic safety were analysed from the viewpoint of costs and benefits that might be incurred in the harmonisation of these signs and markings. Thereafter, the work developed four harmonisation scenarios to categorise the importance and timescales of the various measures. For example, the first scenario described ten low cost harmonisation measures that could be implemented in the short term, in which it was estimated that for these measures the safety benefits should exceed the costs within one year. The proposed road signing and marking harmonisation measures in this scenario included:
i. Using exit lane countdown marker signs to all motorway exits and intersections
ii. Employing retro-reflective road markings on the whole of the TERN
iii. Adding exit numbers on motorway direction signs
iv. Pre-trip road signing information by means of details about various road signs and road markings on the Web.
It was recognised that significant institutional barriers might be present; such barriers might prevent the successful implementation of the measures proposed. As such, institutional analysis was undertaken as a final stage in this project to elucidate the implementation steps and EU/EC actions needed for signing harmonisation.
This presentation will fully explain the methods used and results obtained in this project. Following that, it will summarise where traffic signing and marking changes are expected to have a large road safety benefit, and what policy and other changes are required to realise this safety benefit.
Association for European Transport