Subcontracts India has initiated a research on Road Safety Audit (RSA) which is defined as "the formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team. It qualitatively estimates and reports on potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for improvements in safety for all road users.
Road Safety Audits differ from conventional traffic safety studies in two key ways: Road Safety Audits are often pro-active investigations, rather than reactive investigations of sites with histories of complaints or poor safety performance, and the investigation team is independent from the staff that is designing the project or maintains the road.
A key feature of a Road Safety Audit is the use of a team of professionals with varied expertise. The team should include highway safety engineers, highway design engineers, maintenance personnel, and law enforcement. Additional specialties should be added to the team as needed. The team members must not be involved in the design or maintenance of the facility being examined, so that they can have an objective point of view.
The road safety situation in India is worsening. Accidents, fatalities and casualties have been increasing dramatically over last 20 years – about 5 percent growth rate over last two decades - partly due to exponential growth of vehicles. The death rate per vehicle is 10 to 20 times higher in India as compared to high-income countries like Sweden, Norway, Japan, Australia, UK and USA. It is much higher even when compared to many low-income countries like Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia.
Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized two-wheeler riders are the Vulnerable Road Users (VRU), which constitute 60-80 percent of all traffic fatalities in India.
Accident reduction and accident prevention are the two main strategies in road safety work. In accident reduction, we use the knowledge of accidents that have occurred on our existing roads to improve the design of the roads or to influence the behaviour of road users, so that similar accidents do not occur again.
Accident prevention, on the other hand, is the application of expertise in safe road design - road geometry, as well as the materials used - when we construct new streets and roads or redesign the existing roads, regardless of the reasons for which an individual project is undertaken. This expertise is the result of research and, to a significant extent, of practical experience gained through working on accident reduction.
In road safety work, the concept of 'contributing accident factors' is used. There are factors, which, by their very presence, or which, through their absence have contributed to the occurrence of an accident. Such factors can be related to the road user, the vehicle and the road and its surroundings.
Behaviour of road users appears as a contributing factor in all road accidents. This does not mean, however, that road engineering measures have no effect on the frequency of accidents. On the contrary, it demands that we guide road users into law-abiding and appropriate behaviour through the design of 'forgiving' roads’.
A commitment to road safety through the development of a Safety Culture is an important prerequisite to achieving desired Road Safety goals. This commitment allows assuming responsibility for the Road Authority's actions, be it designing a road, implementation on the ground, approving a development access, allocating resources or training staff.
The purpose of Road Safety Audit is to ensure all road schemes function safely and the road users are exposed to minimal risks of accidents, on new roads as well as on existing roads. Road Safety Audit identifies aspects of a Highway Improvement Scheme that could give rise to road safety problems and suggests modifications that would improve the road safety of the resultant scheme. Road Safety Audit thus assesses projects for potential accident elimination / reduction on the basis of road user knowledge, attributes and skills, day/night, wet/dry road conditions.
Since our roads are designed and constructed by striking a socio-economic balance between safety, accessibility, environment, economy and locally available material and skill, Road Safety Audit may determine the shortfall in safety, but may not be able to correct the deficiencies in pavement design, drainage, and appropriate space standard etc.
Road Safety Audit is based on the principle of an independent review. The process reveals the involvement of Client, Designer, Auditor and the Road User. The client normally appoints the designer and the auditor who are two separate consultants. In India, where proper connectivity in the rural area has recently been taken up, the road user also should be made a part of the team to make the audit and counter measures effective.
Road Safety Audit (RSA) basically comprises of three (3) Stages:
Stage 1 - Audit during design and planning
Stage 2 - Audit during Construction
Stage 3 - Audit after the completion of the project
Although road safety has always been considered during scheme preparation, there have been instances where details of the design have contributed to collisions and/or incidents on newly opened schemes.
Design Teams do not necessarily contain staff with Collision Investigation or Road Safety Engineering experience and consequently they may not foresee potential factors pertaining to collision causation.
The Road Safety Audit procedure is developed to ensure operational road safety experience and is applied during the design and construction process in order that the number as well as severity of collisions is kept to a minimum. Road Safety Auditors identify and address problem areas using the experience gained from highway design, road safety engineering, collision analysis and road safety related research. The aim is that the monitoring of Road Safety Audited schemes will result in more informed designs, leading to schemes that rarely require road safety related changes after opening.
It is recommended that Design Teams include staff with Road Safety Engineering experience to ensure that road safety issues are considered during the design process. However, Road Safety Engineers included within the Design Team cannot be permitted to be part of the appointed Road Safety Audit Teams. This is because of a potential lack of independence from the scheme design as their views may be influenced by familiarity and a natural “pride of authorship”. The involvement of a Road Safety Engineer within the Design Team is not considered to be an acceptable substitute for undertaking Road Safety Audit.
The aim of the evaluation of Road Safety Audit during design and at the end of construction (preferably before the scheme is open to traffic) is to identify potential road safety problems that may affect any users of the road(s) and to suggest measures to eliminate or mitigate those problems. The Road Safety Audit process includes the collision monitoring of the audited sections of the road(s) to identify any road safety problems that may occur after opening. Road Safety Audit should include the analysis and reporting of 12 and 36 months of personal injury collision data from when the road(s) became operational.
Road Safety Audit aims to recognize the importance of safety in highway design to meet the needs and perceptions of all types of road users. It (RSA) strives to achieve a balance between needs of different road user types where they may be in conflict with one another. RSA also helps reduce long-term costs of a project facility, bearing in mind that unsafe designs may be expensive or even impossible to correct at a later stage. It identifies road safety deficiencies and helps formulation of recommendations aimed at removing or reducing those deficiencies. It helps increase awareness about safe design practices among all those involved in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of roads.
Journey Risk Management
Highway safety has assumed the single most important worrisome issue for consideration by the Indian Highways Department. Sixty Five percent of the 1, 10,000 annual road traffic fatalities occur on Indian highways.
The World Report on Injury Prevention and Control by the World Health Organization (WHO 2004) states that any road traffic system is highly complex and its elements include motor vehicles, roads and road users, and their physical, social and economic environments. Understanding these elements and their interactions is vital for carrying out the field investigations, and to devise effective countermeasures to alleviate unsafe road traffic conditions. The risks to road users are also greatly reduced by understanding the implications of vehicle mix in a particular country and other ancillary factors such as speed, alcohol, and driver fatigue that influence the operating environment (HAWORTH 1998). Such conditions are amply present in India where motorized and non-motorised traffic (NMT) present a formidable challenge for traffic management.
The interactions between various elements of the road traffic system are linked to safe and unsafe movements of traffic. A systems approach and thorough understanding of these interactions can be helpful in identifying potential beneficial interventions (countermeasures) to make a road traffic system less prone to hazardous conditions such as conflicts, violations and crashes.
Journey Risk Management (JRM) is an innovative dimension of research created at the EMDS towards understanding these interactions and devising a pre journey advice module for road users undertaking highway journeys.
About Journey Risk Management (JRM)
JRM entails a scientific road safety audit through camera based recording. The process includes
creation of a customized digital road network,
recording and analysis of accidents and potential risk areas including black spots, conducting traffic surveys and
mapping of all types of services and facilities(Attraction, Education, Emergency, Lodging, Recreation, Restaurant, Transportation, Petrol stations etc.)
The team which conducts the road safety audit pre-supposes the needs of a driver or road user in envisioning the types of risks encountered, and the support and information they would require to be assured of safer usage. These are based upon various police records of accidents, interviews with different type of road users of respective areas as well as on the culture of road usage in relation to environment, enforcement, awareness factors etc. Once the analysis of the data is complete, the whole section of the road is categorized into different risk areas with a color code. The rating of roads provides a methodology to measure the safety performance of a road network.
The stepwise methodology is described in the figure below:
The survey vehicle has been specially customized and equipped with multi cameras, laser based speed measurement and recording devices, laptop and GPS systems. The process of recording the road environment, risks, hazards as well as facilities available is carried out by joint team of traffic engineers, accident analysts, and camera man and road safety experts.
The final analysis is presented in two forms
* JRM Booklet inclusive of:
* Risk Rate maps along with the type of risks and recommendations supported with photographs of the hazards and the potential risk areas.
* Maps showing the different type of facilities, their location and distances.
* Emergency numbers for Police Stations. Traffic Aid Centers, Hospitals, Medical Facilities, Service and repair shops and other important services and facilities.
Transport Emergency Card showing
* Accident Black spots and the risks
* Recommended Speed Limit as per the type of risks
* Time taken to Travel the identified section of the road
* Emergency phone numbers for the identified section of the road.
The multidimensional approach of JRM process makes it useful for almost every one. Be it an individual or an industry. The beneficiaries from this process include:
* Road User other than driver
* Road Maintenance agencies
* Industries and corporates in Fleet Management and safe transportation of men and material.
The JRM was initiated at the EMDS with the support and partnership of Castrol India Ltd. Today 15,000 kilometers of Indian national and State Highways have been mapped and road safety audited by EMDS under this programme. All commercial drivers associated with the BP & Castrol group who use the highways are benefitting from this JRM programme
Safety is most important for any highway user. There are two aspects which help the driver make his journey safer. The first is confidence of road usage. The JRM brings together all information such as traffic assistance centers, police stations, hospitals, banks, parking places, eating places en route. On the second dimension the JRM gives the information of hazardous locations that a driver would encounter, based upon an understanding of hazard perception. This makes the JRM programme the safest tool for a highway user for safe and confident usage
Transport is an enabling system that is critical to economic well-being of any organization and business entity. JRM contribution to better road environment and safety of drivers will enhance the effectiveness of transportation of men and material. This would have a direct impact on improving cost effectiveness, saving of time and fuel, improvement of environment etc. Effective transportation is the basis of sustainability of any economy. Therefore any investment in making transport safer and effective with JRM will give wide ranging results in improving the local transport economy.
Some of the specific examples of benefits resulting from JRM related activities are:
* Safe and healthy reliable workforce that brings reliability and discipline to corporate culture
* Savings in travel time and thereby reducing transport costs-productivity, congestion free internal road network
* Reducing downtime for transport vehicles and their repairs
* Reducing health costs per employee
* Overall corporate culture preservation
The introduction of JRM in India is a very good example of how agencies in both public and private sectors can benefit from basic approaches to help improve road safety-examination of road environment and removing hurtful activities and errors from the infrastructure. Drivers, road users and system operators are all beneficiaries from JRM approach in India. EMDS is very pleased with the effort and its successful acceptance by concerned parties in India.