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PIARC (World Road Association), founded in 1909 and comprising 125 member governments from all over the world, is the global forum for exchange of knowledge and experience on roads, road transport policies and practices. With consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the Association is contributing to a stable and sustainable global development of the road and transport sector.

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

Published on 14 November 2023.

PIARC Global Road Safety Knowledge Exchange.

John Milton presents the infrastructure issues and safety measures to implement for road safety. Watch now!

Chair of PIARC Technical Committee 3.1 “Road Safety”

Let’s pursue our Road Safety Knowledge Exchange! This global project aims at sharing knowledge about road safety, especially with low- and middle-income countries but also with more developed economies with different needs and priorities. Since January 2023, the Road Safety Knowledge project broached the questions of Vehicles, Speed, Data and Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) to increase road safety.

This month, let’s focus on infrastructure!

Problem: In most countries, and especially in urban areas, more than half of all road fatalities and severe injuries happen on less than 10% of the total road length.

Solution: Assessment of risk should be undertaken for the entire road network in a standardized and segmented manner. For existing road networks, where data is available, assessment of crash data should be undertaken to identify high risk locations.

Recommendation: Road Safety Audits and Inspections enhance safety. Undertake road safety audits on all sections of new roads (pre-feasibility through to detailed design) and complete assessments using independent and accredited experts to ensure a minimum standard of three stars or better for all road users. Complete assessment with road safety inspections on critical locations of existing roads. iRAP provides an affordable solution for RSA and RSI and is recommended especially for LMICs.

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Problem: Road infrastructure is often the single most significant factor that contributes to the severity outcome(s) of a crash.

Solution: Avoiding severe injuries from crashes involves: removing hazards from the roadside, removing conflicts as much as possible by separating users in space, separating users in time and increasing attentiveness and awareness. Aim for reduction of motorized traffic as much as possible, especially powered-two-wheelers, and shift the modal split towards active travel.

Recommendation: Focus upon improvements in infrastructure and vehicle safety over the medium to longer term will be essential in providing a forgiving system. Allow for the accommodation for new/emerging modes in the network before they come and place special emphasis on protecting Vulnerable Road Users.

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Problem: Currently, only high-capacity highways, motorways, freeways have the features necessary for applying a Smart Roads Classification.

Solution: When building new roads, road designers should aim to achieve the highest Smart Roads Levels. Activities should be directed towards implementing and expanding 5G coverage, at least along their main corridors.

Recommendation: LMIC Governments and transport industry should be prepared to avoid being caught off guard and to not get left behind the global community.

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Problem: Fatalities and serious injuries are an unacceptable consequence of our mobility and the design of our road transport system in the whole world.

Solution: The road transport system needs to anticipate and accommodate for human errors (even those we would call violations) and prevents consequent death or serious injury. All roads should be designed to control speeds and manage the kinetic energy of moving vehicles so that when drivers or other road users make errors, they will be protected from crash forces that could cause death or serious injury.

Recommendation: The costs of road improvements are manageable in context. Studies indicate that as little as 1-3% of road construction budgets are needed to make significant road safety improvements. When the value of lives saved and serious injuries prevented are considered, the return on investment is positive.

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PowerPoint Presentation


Previous topics of this Road Safety Knowledge Exchange Project: