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PIARC is boosting Road Safety in LMICs: focus on speed!

Published on 30 May 2023.

PIARC Global Road Safety Knowledge Exchange.

John Barrell, presents you the speed management for road safety. Watch now!

PIARC Technical Committee 3.1 "Road Safety"

Hop on our Exchange project aiming at sharing knowledge about road safety, especially with low and middle-income countries with limited ressources but also with more developed economies with different needs and priorities. Thematically, the Road Safety Knowledge project will focus on the Safe System approach, addressing safe roads and roadsides, safe road users, safe vehicles and safe speeds. It is managed for PIARC by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT).

This month, let’s focus on speed!

Problem: LMICs have greater variety and intensity of traffic mixing the slow-moving and vulnerable non-motorized road users, as well as the motorcycles with fast-moving motorized vehicles.

Solution: In urban areas where there is a mix of road users, a maximum speed limit of 30km/h should be established. It is possible that shared-space areas can be created this way, fostering more active travel.

Recommendation: Explore the potential benefits of speed control systems like ISA in cars, motorcycles and motor-tricycle.

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Problem: Speed is still considered at the core of the most important risk factors of crashes. Managing speed is critical to the effective implementation of the Safe System approach.

Solution: Low-cost countermeasures called slight road improvement engineering can help achieve effective speed reductions. Systems such as speed humps, lane narrowing, chicanes, new pedestrian crossing solutions, optimized cross section sharing with respect to flow-speed curves analysis and varying wearing course material are essential techniques in urban areas in LMICs.

Recommendation: Speed management is not only about regulating traffic speed but also planning and designing appropriate road layouts and networks for safe travel speeds.

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Problem: An increase of 15% over the mean speed (which is likely to be almost higher than limits in LMICs) induces an 88% increase in road crash fatalities.

Solution: Reducing operating speeds can be achieved by adding vibration deceleration marking at curved roads, using stone pavement sections at village entrances, narrowing lanes by turning the centerline to color wide solid line, setting up snapshot systems.

Recommendation: Speed limits must be credible, homogeneous, visible by day and by night, maintained over time and consistent to achieve driver compliance, ideally coupled with enforcement.

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Problem: Risk of a road crash occurrence is mostly related to the difference between the speed defined as “safe” for the road and the speed actually held by the driver.

Solution: Self-explaining road ensures drivers perceive the right behavior to adopt and adjust their speed, reducing the gap between safe speeds and actual operating speeds. To achieve this road authorities should locally manage road environment to improve self-explanation and ensure that road characteristics match the drivers expectations. Reasons of reduced speed limits must be fully understandable by drivers.

Recommendation: Explore new enforcement strategies like section control, narrowings, woonerfs.

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PowerPoint Presentation

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Previous topics of this Road Safety Knowledge Exchange Project:

Further information: