Systematic safety inspections

04 Apr 2016 Infrastructure
The EU, too, has implemented a range of measures aimed at optimizing the infrastructure in order to enhance road safety. For example, plans have been drawn up to improve the movement of people and freight between the member states by linking the national road networks more efficiently. According to the EU Commission, by 2020 these trans-European networks (TEN) will encompass a total of 90,000 kilometers of highways and high quality expressways. In addition, the EU is planning to participate in safety management of the roads integrated in the trans-European road network by conducting safety checks in the development phase and regular safety inspections of the road network. So far, the EU has already funded a number of monitoring and inspection projects including “Road Infrastructure Safety Protection”, in which engineers investigated various ways of conducting road safety checks. This resulted in recommendations for a range of triedand- tested road safety check procedures. In addition, as part of the “Euro-Audit” project, the EU commissioned the development of a training plan for EU road safety inspectors.
Special attention must also be paid to tunnels because accidents in tunnels can often have very serious consequences. Many tunnels are old and not designed for high volumes of traffic. According to EU law, minimum safety requirements are in place for tunnels, including measures designed to prevent accidents from resulting in fatalities. By 2019, more than 1,300 kilometers of high-traffic road tunnels are to be upgraded so that they fulfill the most stringent safety standards. The EU-supported “Safe-T” project has proposed tried-andtested procedures designed to prevent accidents in tunnels, such as improving technical installations (ventilation systems, shelters, safety tunnels); amending traffic regulations (e.g. traffic restrictions, alternating closure/opening of just one lane); harmonizing safety information; upgrading communication and other equipment to ensure speedy evacuation in the event of a fire; training service personnel in responding to serious accidents (e.g. organizing emergency medical services, telling people what to do in the event of a fire).
Another area of focus for the EU are road-level railroad crossings. Although just a small number of road accidents occur at railroad crossings (no more than 2% of all traffic fatalities), they account for around 30% of railroad fatalities. To prevent accidents at railroad crossings, therefore, the EU is calling for improved cooperation between rail and road operators. The main cause of such accidents – as with many other traffic situations – is often inappropriate actions on the part of road users, e.g. poor judgment of risks, inattention and the failure to observe road signs and warnings – or, in other words, human error. Good infrastructure can play a key role here in mitigating the associated increased risk of accidents.