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Considerations on the role of modernizing the road infrastructure in the prevention of road accidents

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The realizing and improvement of road infrastructure, of modern road networks provides normal, safe and pleasant road traffic conditions and also help prevent road accidents. The road network, with its constructive characteristics, has to offer optimal conditions for the movement of vehicles, pedestrians and other categories of participants in the road traffic. Starting from the case study of a road sector with heavy road traffic, the current paper analyzes the increase in road safety in Romanian localities along European and national roads through the implementation of specific measures such as setting up sidewalks, installing New Jersey median barriers, expanding the road sectors with 2+1 lanes, replacing normal pedestrian crossings with elevated crossings or with pedestrian crossing with mid-road waiting areas etc.
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Considerations on the role of modernizing the
road infrastructure in the prevention of road
accidents
Cristian Deac1,
*
, and Lucian Tarnu1
1 Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management,
Emil Cioran str., 4, Sibiu, Romania
Abstract. The realizing and improvement of road infrastructure, of
modern road networks provides normal, safe and pleasant road traffic
conditions and also help prevent road accidents. The road network, with its
constructive characteristics, has to offer optimal conditions for the
movement of vehicles, pedestrians and other categories of participants in
the road traffic. Starting from the case study of a road sector with heavy
road traffic, the current paper analyzes the increase in road safety in
Romanian localities along European and national roads through the
implementation of specific measures such as setting up sidewalks,
installing New Jersey median barriers, expanding the road sectors with 2+1
lanes, replacing normal pedestrian crossings with elevated crossings or
with pedestrian crossing with mid-road waiting areas etc.
1 Introduction
Modern society has come to rely more and more on road transportation. Therefore, road
safety continues to be a major social problem and accident prevention is an international
priority. Given the fact that it affects also many people on the way to their jobs or even
doing their jobs, it needs to be treated like any other occupational risk, such as stress,
explosion risk [1] etc.
In 2018 alone, more than 25000 persons have died in road accidents recorded in the states of
the European Union, while 1.45 million people have sustained severe or light injuries.
The European Union cooperates closely with the member states in the area of road safety,
seeking to address all factors and agencies involved in the prevention of accidents or in reducing
the seriousness of the accidents’ seriousness, such as the cars, the road infrastructure, the drivers’
behavior, the intervention in emergency situations etc. At European level, the thinking is objective-
oriented, such as in the case of “Vision Zero”, seeking the elimination of fatalities and of serious
injuries in accidents on European roads by the year 2050 [2].
While the other elements the cars are a major target of researches targeting both the
increase in safety and the identification of new, more efficient and non-polluting fuel
sources [3, 4], a special attention needs to be granted to the road infrastructure.
*
Corresponding author: cristian.deac@ulbsibiu.ro
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© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
The road infrastructure is the central element in a modern and efficient road
transportation system. It can be defined as consisting of all basic facilities, services and
installations required for a satisfactory functioning of road transportation, including terrain
usage, network planning, (re)building and design of road sections and of intersections,
signaling, systematizing of roads and road markings, maintenance of the roads system but
also quality assurance measures such as audits, impact analyses and safety inspections [5].
Generally, the road infrastructure should be designed and used in such manner that the
system’s users can know what to expect and what is expected of them, taking into account
the limited human capability to process information and consequently the errors that people
may generate.
According to data from the Eurostat Regional Yearbook 2018” [6], the occurrence of
road accidents could be related to or even determined by a large array of factors, including:
the quality and extent of the road infrastructure, the tendency to own a vehicle, the vehicle
type, its characteristics, the distance already driven, the average speed, the population
density, the climatic and geographic conditions, the legal norms applicable to vehicles and
to drivers, the drivers’ behavior etc.
In the current paper, the authors have analyzed the number and type of road accidents in
two road sectors on the Romanian national road DN 1 and the influence of changes to the
road infrastructure on the seriousness of accidents in one of those sectors.
2 Road Safety Management and its Impact on the Road
Infrastructure
Road safety management is a relatively new concept in Romania, even though at world and
European level the specific measures have already shown important advantages.
The concept of road safety management integrates measures and practices for all aspects
of road traffic: road infrastructure, vehicles, drivers, traffic control, emergency services etc.
In the area of road infrastructure, some of the good practices proposals and measures are
as follows [7, 8]:
reclassification of roads function of their role: transit, local or access roads and
adequate modification of standards, technical norms and good practices for
roadbuilding and road traffic organization;
intensification of the periodic safety inspections of the road network;
application of the procedures for impact assessment and audit operations in the area of
road safety;
identification and classification of the road sections with a high concentration of
accidents;
intensification of the building of motorways and of expressways;
increase of the road safety in the linear settlements along European and national roads
by implementing specific measures such as building sidewalks, installing direction
separators (New Jersey barriers), replacing simple pedestrian crossings with raised or
lowered crossings or with pedestrian crossings with refuges on the road axis;
continuous rehabilitation of roads, improving the horizontal and vertical signaling;
discouragement of the theft of road signaling elements by introducing elements made
of materials without commercial value;
introduction of new road safety elements;
transformation of the simple railroad crossings in raised or lowered crossings;
creation or transformation of parking areas in agreement with road safety requirements;
separation of the slow road traffic from the transit traffic, by building roads dedicated
to slow vehicles such as agricultural vehicles, bicycles, non-motorized vehicles etc.
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illumination of the roads during the night, especially at intersections and in areas with
pedestrian activity, as well as at the pedestrian crossings;
design of the road transportation infrastructure to be able to adapt to extreme weather
phenomena;
elimination of potential hazards from the areas around the road, such as high-strength
elements that can pose a danger on impact, or deep ditches;
marking of the road sections, especially those on motorways, for a better orientation of
drivers and to help the adopt and maintain a minimal safe distance towards the vehicle
in the front;
increase of the efficiency of evacuating the road surface after road accidents;
expansion of road sections with 2+1 lanes, one of the lanes being a pendular lane with
direction separator, as implemented for example on DN 7 in the Olt river gorge etc.
3 The Analyzed Road Sections: Infrastructure Changes and
Road Accident Dynamics
The authors have analyzed the relationship between the dynamics of road accidents and of
their consequences and the implementation of different types of road modernization
measures in the case of three road sections located on the DN1 national road (fig. 1, [9]):
a 38-km stretch (from km 259 to km 297) between the border of Sibiu and Brașov
counties and the intersection of DN 1 with DN7 near Veștem;
a relatively short (8 km) stretch from the intersection of DN 1 with DN7 near Veștem
to the entrance of DN1 into the city of Sibiu;
the road section of DN1 from the city of Sibiu to the border between Sibiu and Alba
counties;
The analysis encompassed a period of 9 years, from 2010 to 2018 .
Fig. 1. The analyzed road sections [9]
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During this period, on the first two road sections, there have been recorded 260 road accidents,
with 50 fatalities, 146 severely injured persons and 340 lightly injured persons [10, 11]. The
distribution of these road accidents by year is presented in figure 2.
Fig. 2. Distribution of the number of road accidents on the first two road sections, by year.
Table 1 details the data corresponding to the first road section in terms of the number of
serious accidents and of consequences (fatalities, severe injuries and light injuries, while
table 2 shows the same details corresponding to the second road section (data in both cases
from [10, 11]).
Table 1. The number of accidents and of the various types of casualties on the DN1 section between
km 259 and 297 between 2010 and 2018.
Year
Total no. of
accidents
Serious
accidents
Fatalities
Severe injuries
Light injuries
2010
20
14
6
12
20
2011
23
13
6
13
21
2012
11
6
1
8
16
2013
19
11
3
11
17
2014
23
12
7
10
31
2015
20
6
5
13
22
2016
24
10
2
14
27
2017
25
10
4
9
29
2018
17
5
2
5
23
TOTAL
182
87
36
95
206
The main causes for the road accidents on these two road sections were identified as
follows:
excessive speed or speed not adapted to road or meteorological conditions - 82 road
accidents (31.53%),
failure to grant right of way to vehicles - 30 road accidents (11.53%),
illegal road crossing by pedestrians - 26 road accidents (10%),
failure to maintain a safe distance between vehicles - 24 accidente (9.23%)
illegal overtaking maneuvers - 18 road accidents (6.92%).
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Table 2. The number of accidents and of the various types of casualties on the DN1 section between
km 297 and 305 between 2010 and 2018.
Year
Total no. of
accidents
Serious
accidents
Fatalities
Severe injuries
Light injuries
2010
7
5
3
6
7
2011
6
4
5
10
19
2012
8
4
1
3
8
2013
7
4
1
7
7
2014
12
6
2
9
27
2015
8
4
2
3
11
2016
12
5
0
5
25
2017
9
3
0
3
16
2018
9
5
0
5
14
TOTAL
78
40
14
51
134
While the first section has remained largely unchanged over the mentioned period, the
second section underwent in 2016 fundamental changes in the area of road safety. The main
changes consisted in:
creating central “islands” at the entrance in rural settlements or at the intersections of
the national road with county roads or local roads;
installing metallic barriers on the roadsides.
installing noisemaking strips/resonators;
installing traffic calming devices on the roads.
applying longitudinal and transversal markings of different colors to improve visibility;
applying two-component road markings for improving the road traffic conditions
during the night and in low visibility conditions;
installing mechanical direction separators (New Jersey barriers)
supplementing the vertical and horizontal road signaling in blackspot areas.
While the data in table 1 show no obvious trends over the years, in table 2 there
can be noticed that starting with the year 2016 there have been recorded no fatalities there,
while the severe injuries resulting from road accidents in that road section also show a
descending trend. This can only be ascribed to the changes that were made to the road
infrastructure in the year 2016 and especially to the installation of New Jersey barriers.
Moreover, these measures led to the virtual disappearance of road accidents caused by the
driving on the wrong side of the road, by the illegal road crossing by pedestrians and also
by illegal overtaking maneuvers.
The third analyzed road section of DN1, from the city of Sibiu to the border between Sibiu
and Alba counties, has been doubled in 2014 by a motorway section. However, in the year 2015,
the motorway section had to be closed in order to allow some repairs to be carried out and
reopened only in the year 2016.
Table 3 shows the dynamics of the number of accidents and of the various types of
casualties both on DN1 between km 314 and km 350 and on the corresponding motorway
section (data from [10, 11]).
As can be seen from table 3, the number of accidents and the number of fatalities and of
severe injuries resulting from these accidents on DN1 has decreased significantly once the
motorway section had been opened and even the sum of accidents and of fatalities and
severe injuries, respectively, on the DN1 section and on the motorway section, is lower than
most numbers in previous years.
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Even more, once the motorway had to be closed for repairs, the numbers of accidents,
fatalities and severe injuries have returned to pre-2014 levels. Once the motorway had
reopened, all values decreased again. This points once again to the huge effect of
introducing motorways as another means to modernize the road infrastructure on the
increase in road safety levels.
This is also supported by the fact that the main causes for the producing of road
accidents on the third road section (national road) were as follows:
excessive speed or speed not adapted to road or meteorological conditions - 95 road
accidents (40.33%)
failure to maintain a safe distance between vehicles 27 road accidents (11.34%)
pedestrian indiscipline 21 road accidents (8.86%)
while the main causes on the motorway section were:
failure to maintain a safe distance between vehicles 12 road accidents (36.36%)
other preoccupation of drivers 7 accidents (21.21%)
excessive speed or speed not adapted to road or meteorological conditions - 95 road
accidents (40.33%).
Table 3. The dynamics of the number of accidents and of the various types of casualties on DN1
between km 314 and km 350 and on the corresponding A1 motorway section
Period
A 1 (km 270 km 292)
No.
of
acc.
Serious
acc.
Fatalities
Severe
injuries
Light
injuries
No.
of
acc.
Serious
acc.
Fatalities
Severe
injuries
Light
injuries
08.09.2010
-
07.09.2011
24
18
1
18
14
08.09.2011
-
07.09.2012
24
12
6
13
27
08.09.2012
-
07.09.2013
17
10
7
13
21
08.09.2013
-
07.09.2014
24
16
3
20
26
08.09.2014
-
07.09.2015
8
4
2
5
6
9
4
1
6
4
08.09.2015
-
07.09.2016
26
13
10
21
32
Motorway closed
08.09.2016
-
07.09.2017
4
2
0
5
14
7
4
1
6
10
08.09.2017
-
07.09.2018
4
2
0
3
3
6
5
1
7
4
TOTAL
131
77
29
98
143
22
13
3
19
18
It should be mentioned also that both the modernizing measures introduced on the
second analyzed road section and the opening of the motorway on the third road section
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have managed to eliminate three of the main causes of accidents in previous years: wrong-
way driving, illegal crossing of the road by pedestrians and illegal overtaking of vehicles.
4 Discussion and conclusions
The data presented in the current paper have shown that by implementing adequate
measures for the modernization of the road infrastructure, it was possible to significantly
reduce the number of accidents and of their most serious consequences.
It can be stated that during the period targeted by this analysis, from 2010 to 2018, the
number of accidents has fluctuated, but during the last three years of the study there could
be noticed a descending trend, both concerning the number of accidents and concerning the
number of more serious consequences of these accidents (fatalities and severe injuries).
While in the case of the second road section, this is visible only in terms of fatalities, for
the third section the reduction in the number of all categories of accidents and of their
consequences is obvious, emphasizing once more the important role of motorways not only
in the reduction of the travel time between cities, but also in the increase of road safety.
Furthermore, the implementation of modernizing measures such as those described in
this paper has led to the elimination, on the analyzed road sections, of some of the most
important causes for accidents - wrong-way driving, illegal crossing of the road by
pedestrians and illegal overtaking of vehicles.
Since road safety management is a new concept in Romania, it would be beneficial to
elaborate a dedicated handbook to assist the authorities with attributions in the area of road
infrastructure. This handbook should comprise the best practices from Romania and other
member states of the European Union and be a source of inspiration for the design of safety
elements, including elements that require attention on and along the roads in residential or
industrial areas.
The existing roadbuilding standards should be revised in order to identify road safety
issues that require updating and to include the state of the art in the area of road safety.
The list of blackspot areas should also be updated regularly, as well as the management
system for such areas the the relevant information should be communicated to all interested
parties. The analysis of the situation in each blackspot area could lead to valuable lessons
and to measures that could be applied in other blackspot areas, such as physical
improvements that would supplement and eventually even replace the installation of
blackspot area signs.
As indicated also in the General Transportation Masterplan of Romania [7], the
elimination of blackspots should be done in agreement with the best practices from the
states of the European Union.
In future, the authors intend to continue their researches in order to obtain more data and
refine their results in terms of the correlation between various types of road infrastructure
improvements and the increase of road safety aspects.
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Law 265/2008, republished (Official Monitor of Romania
  • Romania Government Of
  • A M Gligor
A.M. Gligor, Sci. Bull. Univ. Ploiesti, LXVII, 4 (2015)
  • M Bibu
  • M Dumitru
M. Bibu, M. Dumitru, Sci. Pap. Manag. Ec. Eng. Agri. Rural Dev. 14, 3 (2014)
  • Eurostat
Eurostat, Eurostat statistical yearbook 2018 (European Union, 2018)
2018) 7. Government of Romania and AECOM, Variantă finală revizuită a Raportului privind Master Planul pe termen scurt, mediu și lung (Government of Romania, 2015) 8. Government of Romania, Strategia Nationala de Siguranta Rutiera pentru perioada
  • Eurostat
Eurostat, Eurostat statistical yearbook 2018 (European Union, 2018) 7. Government of Romania and AECOM, Variantă finală revizuită a Raportului privind Master Planul pe termen scurt, mediu și lung (Government of Romania, 2015) 8. Government of Romania, Strategia Nationala de Siguranta Rutiera pentru perioada 2016-2020 (Monitorul Oficial al României, 2016)
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Google, Map of Romania (Google Maps, 2018, http://maps.google.com)