To Vision Zero with the Transparent Road

Nov 2020

Infrastructure

In order to reduce the number of deaths on the road in Baden-Württemberg, the Ministry of Transport for the German state has developed a road safety screening system that is probably the only one of its kind so far in Europe. The system detects stretches of road throughout the region that attract an unusually high number of accidents so that efficient optimization measures can be introduced to combat the problem. The screening program, which won 1st place in the “Best infrastructure project” category at the E-Government competition in Berlin in 2018, also acts as the perfect tool for Baden-Württemberg’s 150 accident commissions when it comes to preparation and follow-up work for the essential site visit.

To this end, a platform designed in partnership with engineering consultancy firm DTV-Verkehrsconsult is used to assess all the information relevant to the road safety work according to a standardized method, and present the results on topical maps. This information includes accident data, traffic volumes, and vehicle speeds based on the regular traffic monitoring that is now carried out at around 5,000 counting stations throughout the state, road geometry, road condition, and photos of the section of road in question. All the information for each short (usually 100-meter) stretch of road is compiled in profiles arranged by topic, and each section of road is marked green, yellow, or red to indicate the accident frequency.

The profiles form the general basis for analyzing the causes of the accident and corrective measures, and each one contains up to 700 separate items of information. In order to make the road safety work easier in terms of content, network assessments and special investigations that tackle the individual types of accident or vehicle separately are also carried out. For example, these studies may investigate cases where a vehicle runs off the road and crashes into an obstacle, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or accidents in parallel traffic. In addition to this, an online prioritization tool has also been developed; this allows users to weight accident parameters individually and then arranges them in order accordingly, identifying and marking out the most critical points for the issue at hand in the space of just a few minutes. Among other things,this ranking enables the Ministry to invest its allotted road infrastructure improvement budget in the locations where the need is greatest, resulting in a long-term improvement in road safety.

There are plans for development of the screening program to continue systematically, eventually including – among other things – accident data not just for the party that causes an accident, but for everyone involved in it. Such analysis is particularly important for motorcycle accidents, as these often result in severe injuries for persons who did not cause the accident themselves. The same problem applies to accidents that occur between trucks and bicycles.

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