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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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Virtual International Workshop "Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, a Pathway towards a Safer Future"

27-28 October 2021, online organised from Rome (Italy)

Due to the pandemic situation, this international Workshop was organised as a webinar jointly by the Italian National Committee and by PIARC via its Technical Committee 3.1 "Road Safety".

Preparatory document for the Workshop

Proceedings of the Workshop

Summary and Conclusions of the Workshop

The World Health Organization’s 2018 global status of road safety report (WHO 2018) shows that the number of road traffic deaths continues to rise, reaching 1.35 million on average per year. This report highlights the fact that road accidents are now the main cause of death among children and young people aged between 5 and 29.

It is to be noted that most than 90% of all road collisions and mishaps are linked to human distraction.

Talking and texting on mobile apparels, interacting with other passengers and other road users, smoking, alcohol and drug assumption, vehicle dashboard managing and dangerous driving behaviors including lack of correct danger perception.

All adopted countermeasures, including information campaigns on abiding to speed limits and wearing safety belts or not drinking when driving do not seem to have influenced road deaths and injuries in a significant way.

The Vision Zero of zero deaths by 2050 seems still far to be achieved.

Humans are fallible and human behavior is unpredictable.

What could be an effective solution then?

Automation of all driving procedures that seem to be causing almost all of deadly events could actually be such a solution.

Autonomous and connected vehicles and a digital road environment could provide a safe context that could effectively reduce or remove all causes of road related deaths and injuries, let alone the massive social costs.

As for all new disruptive technologies it is important to consider the human response and acceptance of such innovation.

Last but not least is the social impact that AVs (Autonomous vehicles) will bear in our society allowing accessibility to transport and mobility for special sectors of our society such as elderly and disabled.

Organization of the International workshop in Rome

Due the ongoing pandemic situation, the previewed in person workshop could not be held and it had been decided to propose the event on a webinar format.

The Italian National Committee, represented by Leonardo Annese, Technical Committee Road Safety Working group co-leader, has nonetheless managed to organize the event involving a vast representation of Italy’s best practice and stakeholders together with other international experts.

Rome virtual tour

The two Presidents

The workshop, welcomed by the Italian National Committee Firs Delegate Domenico Crocco, was the occasion for President Claude Van Rooten to present newly elected President Nazir Alli who will take office by January 2022.

PIARC Secretary General Patick Mallejacq concluded the event with Leonardo Annese.

The 23 speakers at the international Workshop

The workshop has been followed in its two days’ sessions by more than 100 attendees from all Continents.

The two-day workshop was organized into three sessions focusing on:

  1. CAV Road Safety implications
  2. Psychological factors on automated vehicle acceptance
  3. A safe and Connected Infrastructural system

Road safety CAV implications was focused in session 1.

Vision zero in an autonomous perspective, United State’s best practices and United Nations (UNECE) testimony joined the new needs for the correct usage of automation in driving schools.

This workshop was a great opportunity to present PIARC’s Task Force B.2 "Automated Vehicles - Challenges and Opportunities for Road Operators and Road Authorities" report as seen in the following link and its translation into Italian offered by the Italian National Committee: Automated Vehicles - Challenges and Opportunities for Road Operators and Road Authorities

The psychological approach to acceptance, the ethical implications of algorithm driven vehicles, special road users’ accessibility to mobility were the main topic of Session 2.

Two important European Union funded programs on trustability and acceptance were presented in this session.

The UDrive4Me Platform was presented as a product of the Working group Ethical, social and safety issues of autonomous driving in the Italian Technical Committee Connected and autonomous driving as a means of proposing this new approach to trough a interactive survey in English and Italian.

The final Session 3 was dedicated to how connected and digitalized road infrastructures can implement a safe environment. The Italian best practices on “smart roads” and the implementation of new technologies with the Israelian experience were a tangible proof of the on-going deployment of the autonomous vehicles in granting a safer and accessible road environment.

The Chosen Action Plans and Recommendations

The seminar highlighted international experiences and standards and will provide an opportunity to further analyze certain key concepts, particularly with regard to adopting all technological innovations as a means of assuring a safe road context.

The need to take into account road safety as a quantifiable economic loss that requires more than profitable investments also achieved by the autonomous and connected approach.

This seminar enabled participants with different profiles (designers, auditors, researchers and students) to make effective use of new technologies and recent road safety approaches.

Video of the International Workshop - Day I

Video of the International Workshop - Day II