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

Published on 23 November 2023.

PIARC Global Road Safety Knowledge Exchange.

Ingo Kaundinya presents the issues and safety measures to implement in tunnels for road safety. Watch now!

Chair of PIARC Technical Committee 4.4 “Tunnels”

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, Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) and Infrastructure to increase road safety.

This month, let’s focus on tunnels!

Problem: Tunnels are enclosed structures with confined space that can cause, for some users, feelings of anxiety and particular behavior especially at the event of a collision.

Solution: Drivers need to be more aware of how they should behave in tunnels. A fairly long stretch of road (150-200m) before the tunnel should not contain too many signs or signals. The tunnel safety facilities should be easily recognizable even in normal traffic. Alarm signals should be provided by multiple-redundant sources (e.g. public address system and variable message signs). Good ventilation and lighting throughout the tunnel is essential as well, conforming to established design regulations.

Recommendation: The design of tunnels and their operation should take account of human factors. Ensure that the measures implemented are likely to be well understood and adopted by the users.

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Problem: Collisions and fires in road tunnels are incidents which require special attention, because they are, or have the potential to develop into, events with serious consequences to the health or life of people, to property, to infrastructure or to the environment.

Solution: Adopt measures preventing the occurrence of significant incidents, mitigating the consequences of the events, as well as measures supporting self-rescue and emergency.

Recommendation: It is important to adopt the integrated approach during the design of road tunnels. Establish the safety concept in an early design stage and provide it at all project stages.

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Problem: The proactive actions and reactions of those in charge of operating the road tunnels is a decisive factor in ensuring the safety of people during an incident.

Solution: Organize consultation and cooperation during the tunnel design process and define measures necessary to minimize the time required to mobilize the emergency services.

Recommendation: Specific and appropriate training is essential, as well as the establishment of proper protocols and post-crash intervention sequences.

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Problem: Existing tunnels may not be in line with the current safety standards because of subsequent regulation updates.

Solution: A structured approach for assessing and preparing refurbishment programmes includes two tasks. The first task aims to assess the current situation of the tunnel in order to identify the current safety level. The second task aims to define the future situation after any upgrade/refurbishment works, which should be acceptable in relation to the defined safety level goal.

Recommendation: Risk assessment can be used to address the specific safety features of a tunnel system and their impact on safety.

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PowerPoint Presentation


Previous topics of this Road Safety Knowledge Exchange Project: