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FHWA > Programs > Office of Policy > Office of International Programs  > Managing & Organizing Comprehensive Highway Safety in Europe > Chapter Two

Chapter Two

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General Report Information
Executive Summary
Chapter One - Introduction
Chapter Two - Key Findings
Chapter Three - Common Safety Program Themes
Chapter Four - Recommendations and Implementation Strategy
Appendix A - European Contacts
Appendix B - Team Members
Appendix C - Amplifying Questions

Click on a link below to go to a specific topic in this chapter:
Key Findings
Findings in Sweden
Findings in Germany
Findings in the Netherlands
Findings in the United Kingdom


Each country visited during the scanning study provided information with potential to significantly advance the effectiveness of highway safety programs in the United States. This chapter summarizes safety programs, policies, and implementation activities observed in each country that the scanning team considers key to the effective management and organization of comprehensive highway safety. Examples of safety program elements and activities in each country are also listed. Some of the examples were the focus of previous scanning studies and may have been implemented in the United States already. In other cases, elements and activities are described to reinforce the idea that international agreement exists on many safety approaches.

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In Sweden, the scanning team met with representatives of the Swedish National Road Administration and Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute. Team members discussed a number of safety policies, programs, and activities with Swedish experts. The discussions summarized in this report focus on the “Vision Zero” philosophy, corridor-level crash analysis, and a program to investigate all fatal crashes. Examples of safety program elements used in Sweden also are provided.

Vision Zero: National Philosophy and Continuing Discussion
A subject of international discussion for several years has been the concept of “Vision Zero.” This concept is the overarching safety philosophy that guides highway safety decisions in Sweden. The ultimate objective of Vision Zero is a roadway system in which no fatalities or serious injuries occur. It is recognized that roadway users will always make errors, but Vision Zero is considered to be the basis for a social contract with roadway users that implies they will not be killed or seriously injured in a crash if they are responsible, wear seat belts, follow road rules (such as speed limits), and do not drive under the influence of alcohol. Sweden’s safety goal is a total fatality reduction of 50 percent between 1996 and 2007.(2) Note that this is a reduction in total fatalities and not a fatality rate reduction.

The philosophy of Vision Zero is that roadway fatalities and serious injuries are morally and ethically unacceptable, and that when they do occur it is a shared failure of the individuals and groups in the transportation system. These include, but are not limited to, transportation policymakers and politicians, planners, drivers and road users, police agencies, highway agencies and road managers, driving educators, transportation companies, and vehicle manufacturers. In the past, much of the responsibility for a safe trip was placed on roadway users. This has been a point of discussion, however, because roadway safety is one of the responsibilities of the Swedish National Road Administration, which now has a plan of measures for increased roadway safety.

Not surprisingly, the scanning team found a continuing dialogue in Sweden and elsewhere on the theory of shared responsibility for roadway fatalities and the impacts of Vision Zero on day-to-day safety program implementation. As mentioned previously, one component of Vision Zero is a shared responsibility approach, and many believe this will have to occur for it to be successful. At the same time, the Swedish National Road Administration and its roadway designers always have had ultimate responsibility for roadway safety throughout Sweden. Others believe that effective safety improvements require a shared responsibility between the government and the roadway user. The Vision Zero focus on fatalities and serious injuries has resulted in discussions about its impact on the need to implement day-today safety improvements to reduce the number of crashes. One argument is that about half of Sweden’s fatalities occur on 15 percent of the roadway network, and focusing programs on these dangerous roads is the most cost-effective solution.(3) The other side of the argument is that a focus on fatalities and serious injuries ignores the need and funding for general safety improvements that reduce total crashes.

The focus on highway fatality and serious injury reductions in Sweden has resulted in a programming framework that encourages safety improvements related to the tolerance of a human body to kinetic energy. The multidimensional model followed uses measures that manage kinetic energy during a crash as its key components. The model focuses on vehicle crashworthiness, occupant restraints and their use, and vehicle speed. This model is the framework followed for safety improvements and fatality investigations that occur in Sweden. The focus is on crash severity reduction, not total crash prevention.

Comprehensive Fatality Investigations
Since 1997, all crashes in Sweden that resulted in fatalities have been investigated individually.(4) The objective of the investigations is to determine what factors caused the fatality (see the previous kinetic energy discussion) versus what caused the crash. Crashes are divided into three groups:

  • Beyond System Criteria – In this case, the roadway user violated road rules and it had an impact on the severity of the crash. Speeding is included in this category. Suggested countermeasures include limiting access to the system by these types of people (e.g., alcohol ignition locks) and automated or manual police enforcement.
  • Excessive Risk – The roadway user in this case was killed because of a lack of personal protection, because it was either not available or not used. An example is a vehicle occupant who does not use a seatbelt or a motorcyclist who does not wear a helmet. Countermeasures include education on the use of seatbelts and improving the general crashworthiness of vehicles.
  • Excessive Force – In this case, the fatality was caused by a combination of speed, roadway infrastructure, and the vehicle’s safety capabilities. The roadway user followed all laws and regulations to the best of his ability, but made an error that resulted in a fatal crash. An example of this type of crash is someone leaving the roadway and hitting a tree. Countermeasures for these types of crashes usually focus on improving roadway infrastructure and vehicle crashworthiness and their interaction. Setting speed limits related to the crashworthiness of the elements also has been suggested. Between 1997 and 1999, two-thirds of the crashes that occurred in Sweden were in this category.

In general, the three groups of fatal crashes above are defined by which component of the roadway environment failed. For example, 62 percent of fatalities investigated were found to result from a mismatch between roadway speed and the passive safety designed into the roadway.(5) The results of the investigation have been used to improve safety standards and implement safety improvements in Sweden. They support the shared responsibility basis of Vision Zero because all interacting components of the crash environment were investigated (e.g., vehicle, design, and driver) and the ultimate cause of the fatality determined. In other words, the potential involvement in a crash of many different groups was considered. For example, if a crash involved a drunk driver who crossed the roadway centerline, hit a taxi, and caused the death of a baby, the responsibility of several different roadway safety groups might be represented by the following newspaper headlines:

  • Drunk Driver Kills Baby (traditional)
  • People Call for Median Barrier (roadway authority)
  • Ambulance Arrives Two Hours After Baby Dies (emergency services)
  • Taxi Companies Share Responsibility To Protect Children (commercial taxi driver industry)
  • Cars Provide Insufficient Child Protection (vehicle industry)
  • Law Loophole Allowed Baby to Ride Without Protection (enforcement or legal profession)
  • Alcohol Interlocks Needed Now (driver safety groups)

Suggested solutions to avoid future fatalities also are often multidisciplinary, such as driver education on seatbelt use combined with roadside design improvements. These types of solutions, however, also require comprehensive coordination and communication within and between safety agencies.

Corridor Crash Analysis
The general approach to safety or crash analysis in Sweden is interesting. The approach corresponds to the requirements and focus of Vision Zero, and a basic understanding of the location and extent of the safety concerns in Sweden. For example, the objective of the analysis approach is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in a cost-effective manner. In addition, safety improvement locations are chosen by a comparison of fatality rates per kilometer along similar roadway classes.

For the most part, identification of "black spot" or high-crash locations is done on a limited basis in Sweden. The focus instead is on "black environments," those roadway subclasses, or roadways with similar characteristics, that have a higher-than-expected number of crashes per mile (kilometer). If an analysis of the data shows that an entire subclass - such as two-lane rural highways with no shoulders - has a higherthan-acceptable number of crashes, roadways within that subclass may become the focus of a safety improvement program. Improvements would be made to the entire subclass of roadways, and not be based on the crash experience at individual locations. The focus on the safety experience of a roadway environment or corridor also reduces the need for the accuracy necessary in crash location data for black spot analysis. Black spot investigations are still used to monitor safety concerns and suggest improvements at local and regional government levels, but the application of Vision Zero has had an impact on the ability to continue these activities.

Safety Program Elements and Activities
Examples of safety program elements and activities in Sweden are listed below. This list includes only a small portion of those occurring in Sweden and is not comprehensive. The list represents those safety program elements of particular interest to scanning team members.

  • The Swedish government has tested or used roadside equipment that may be of interest in the United States. For example, it has tested crashworthy luminary poles and new guardrail end treatments that flatten and pass over or under a vehicle. For the most part, crash requirements and testing for roadside equipment are the same in Sweden as in the United States.
  • Sweden has produced a crash cushion assembly that can be constructed off the roadway and dropped into location, reducing the exposure of construction workers installing such devices. It also is testing a truck-mounted attenuator for the front of a pavement-marking truck.
  • Crash testing has been conducted to investigate vehicle roof strength, as well as the results when a vehicle collides with a moose. About 12 vehicle-moose crashes occur each day in Sweden, with 12 fatalities a year.
  • Seatbelt use is required of all passengers, and front seatbelt usage is about 90 percent. Cell phone use is allowed in a hands-free mode only. Moped and motorcycle helmet use is mandatory. All vehicles must have their headlights on 24 hours a day.
  • Sweden has a low tolerance for alcohol use, with an acceptable driver blood alcohol content limit of only 0.02.
  • The minimum age for a learner's driving permit is 16, and driving with an approved supervisor is required until age 18. A full, non-restricted driver's license can be obtained at 18. Overall, the cost of obtaining a license is estimated at more than U.S. $1,000.
  • The Swedish National Road Administration has proposed a three-stage driver training system. This proposal involves checking the driving skills of those seeking licenses. On the premise that a skilled driver is not necessarily a safe driver, the proposal also recommends teaching new drivers to proactively assess risks rather than react with emergency skills.
  • Research is being conducted into the safety of disabled children in vehicles and the use of alcohol ignition interlocks.
  • In an example of the focus on black environments, investigators found that twolane rural roadways with narrow shoulders had an unacceptable number of crashes and a 2+1 roadway cross section improvement was proposed. This cross section was discussed in a previous scan study on geometric design and includes the addition of alternating passing lanes every 0.6 to 1.5 miles. By the end of 2000, about 125 miles of this roadway configuration was complete with observed safety improvements. It was determined that volume levels on these roadways allowed opposing traffic flow to be effectively separated by a cable median barrier.
  • Sweden has introduced lower winter speed limits on many roadways, which has had an effective impact on winter fatalities.

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In Germany, the scanning team met with representatives of the following groups:

  • Federal Highway Research Institute German Insurance Association German Road Safety Council
  • Cologne Institute for Road Traffic Federal Police Leadership Academy Road and Traffic Authority, Brandenburg
  • Road and Traffic Authority, Rheinland-Pfalz
  • Road and Traffic Authority, Hessen
  • Technical University of Aachen
  • Technical University of Darmstadt
  • Technical University of Dresden
  • Technical University of Erfurt
  • Technical University of Potsdam

Team members discussed a significant number of safety policies, programs, and activities with German experts. The discussions summarized in this report focus on the federal road safety program, local accident commissions, and the training and technology transfer of law enforcement and accident commission members. Examples of safety program elements and activities also are listed.

Federal Program for Improved Road Safety

In February 2001, the German federal government published the "Program for Improved Road Safety," which includes more than 100 suggested highway safety initiatives in the areas of engineering, education, and enforcement.(6) It is an advisory document for safety application in the German lander, or states. The initiatives recommend five safety program priorities:

  • Improving the road or traffic climate, including promotion of less-agressive road user behavior.
  • Protecting vulnerable road users.
  • Reducing the crash risks of novice and younger drivers.
  • Reducing the dangers related to heavy vehicle transport.
  • Improving safety on rural roadways.

Safety measures described in the program address:

  • Road user behavior, through public relations efforts, traffic education and laws, and improvement incentives.
  • Vehicle safety, through such measures as vehicle shape improvements and child restraint systems.
  • Intelligent transportation systems, such as driver assistance systems and radio data systems.
  • Infrastructure design and planning, including black spot treatments, bypasses, and road design.
  • Rescue and emergency services, including improved first aid skills and crash location identification.

Similar, more detailed plans also have been prepared to guide specific safety activities in some German lander.

The "Program for Improved Road Safety" does not include fatality and serious injury crash reduction goals or targets. It appeared that a 50 percent reduction in fatalities and serious injuries within the next 10 years was proposed initially, but it was not included in the document approved by the government. One expert who met with the scanning team expressed hope that quantitative goals would be included when the next program was approved in two years. He believes quantitative safety goals would help inspire and motivate, indicate a stronger political commitment, allow more effective use of safety measures, and be a measure to evaluate completed safety improvements. Another proposal for the future is to use the government's annual "Road Accident Prevention Report" as a controlling document for the federal road safety program. This document would be expanded to report the effectiveness of different safety measures and could be used to help monitor, measure, evaluate, and guide the safety program.

Highway safety analysis and improvements are high priorities in Germany, and many organizations are involved, including those the scanning team met with. The federal safety program guides the activities of these organizations. The similarity of subjects addressed by the groups the team visited, as well as their organizational plans and agendas, showed that a significant amount of coordination and cooperation exists among the national, state, and local governments, research organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. The German Road Safety Council, for example, coordinates all public and nongovernmental activities of its members within Germany. It focuses on road-user education and is financially supported by the national and state ministries. Overall, the scanning team observed a sense of pride and competition among groups in improving Germany's highway safety.

Local Accident Commissions
The German government has required locally based accident commissions since 1971. More than 500 of these city and county commissions exist, and they are required to meet at least twice a year. The multidisciplinary commissions typically are composed of seven or eight members, including police officers and representatives from the road construction and traffic authorities. The legislative requirement to have these commissions has formalized and made commonplace the process of multidisciplinary local safety analysis in Germany. The commissions may be one reason a high level of safety coordination and communication occurs throughout the country.

The local accident commissions are required to identify, investigate, and suggest solutions for high-risk or black spot locations within their jurisdiction. They review pin maps, which are documents with colored pins to indicate locations of crashes of various types and severity levels. The police agency representative on the commission prepares pin maps for the previous year and the preceding three years. The one-year map includes all crashes that have occurred at each location, and the three-year map includes only those with fatalities or serious injuries. About a third of the localities also review collision diagrams prepared by the highway agency.

The suggested criteria for identifying a safety black spot in a German locality is five similar crashes at a location in the past year, three fatalities or serious injuries in the past three years, or five personal injury crashes within the past three years. Commissions typically know where black spot locations are in their locality, and may consider all locations with five or more crashes in a year. They identify the 20 to 30 locations that cause the most concern, with a focus on locations with recent fatalities and crashes involving children. At least two programs have been introduced in Germany to assist in the partial automation this process, but for the most part it is done manually.

Crash analysis in Germany is also done on a larger scale and at different stages of a roadway improvement. In addition to black spots, roadway segments and areas are also considered. For example, safety performance might be evaluated on roadways with specific characteristics, such as rural two-lane roadways with no shoulders. Also, there is a goal to incorporate safety into the process of designing and planning roadways through the introduction of an official road safety audit process, completion of cost-benefit safety analyses, and development of network safety analysis tools.

Training and Technology Transfer
A significant amount of safety training and technology transfer occurs or is planned in Germany. For example, police officers, including those on local accident commissions, receive consistent and comprehensive training in the areas of traffic management and crash analysis at the Federal Police Leadership Academy. They are trained in developing pin maps, as well as in analyzing and evaluating traffic safety situations. For this reason, they are key participants in accident commission discussions. Their training and the data they provide make them essential and knowledgeable commission members.

Some accident commissions, of course, are more effective than others. A training program for commissions recently has been developed, and instructors are being trained. Recently published documents available to the accident commission include "Measuring and Evaluating Accident-Type Maps" and "Measures Against Frequent Accident Sites."(7) (8) These documents help commissions with their use of pin maps and provide examples and photos of possible countermeasures for black spot locations.

Safety Program Elements and Activities
Examples of safety program elements and activities in Germany are listed below. This list includes only examples of particular interest to scanning team members and should not be considered comprehensive.

  • Seatbelt use is required in Germany, and almost all drivers and passengers use seatbelts. Usage is about 98 percent along the autobahn, or freeway, and about 94 percent along rural roadways.
  • German legislation limits the acceptable blood alcohol content of a driver to 0.05. It is also a traffic offense to drive under the influence of drugs or to use a cell phone while driving. Use of radar and laser detectors is also illegal.
  • A license to drive can be acquired at age 18 in Germany, and the cost of obtaining a license is more than U.S. $1,000. Several changes in the education and instruction of drivers have been suggested, including graduated licensing. A number of young driver education and awareness campaigns have been initiated.
  • Speed management is an important part of highway safety programs in Germany. Speed limits have been instituted on some parts of the autobahn system. For example, the Rheinland-Pfalz highway authority has attained a 25 percent reduction in crashes on selected autobahn sections totaling about 90 miles by posting 80 miles-per-hour (130 kilometers-per-hour) speed limits and implementing no-passing restrictions on trucks.
  • Variable message light-emitting-diode (LED) signs have been used along segments of roadway near construction and locations where congestion or crashes often occur. These LED signs indicate the status of the roadway lanes and regulate the speed in each lane. For example, speeds may be reduced gradually in lanes approaching a congested area. Signs in some areas indicate a more appropriate route for the driver.
  • Traffic calming measures and speed cameras (photo radar) are also used in speed management. An example is use of gateways at interfaces from rural to urban areas. Use of this type of device was addressed by a previous scan study. In some German states, all speed enforcement is now accomplished with speed cameras.
  • Collisions with trees result in 33 percent of the driving fatalities that occur in Germany. A significant amount of research has been done in this area and several recommendations have been generated to reduce vehicle-tree crashes. The arguments against removing trees along roadways in Germany, however, are the same as those in the United States.· Trees and other visualization tactics are used to guide drivers to the existence and location of critical decision points, such as intersections, curves, and entry points to urban areas.
  • The Germans have changed some rural two-lane roadways to the 2+1 cross section, which has a passing lane on alternating sides of the roadway. Unlike the Swedish, however, they do not use cable median barriers on these roadways.
  • An experimental lighted in-pavement lane marking for a ramp diverge has been applied in at least one location in Germany. Authorities believe it has been effective in increasing the capacity and safety of this diverge area, and may have potential at other locations.
  • Germany has initiated a proactive road safety audit program. Audits will be conducted by independent, well-trained investigators, and will be completed during a project's planning, initial design, detailed design, and pre-opening stages. The auditor will interact with the project's owning jurisdiction, which will make the decision to accept or reject any safety audit recommendations. Forty-eight audits have been completed in a pilot project, 34 of them in the state of Brandenburg. Road safety audits were the focus of a previous scanning study.

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The scanning team met with representatives of the following groups in the Netherlands:

  • Transport Research Center
  • Institute for Road Safety Research
  • Information and Technology Center for Transport and Infrastructure
  • Environment and Infrastructure Consultants
  • Dutch Traffic Safety Association
  • Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management

The scanning team discussed a significant number of safety policies, programs, and activities with experts in the Netherlands. The discussions summarized in this report focus on what team members believe are key components of the Dutch roadway safety improvement approach. Subjects discussed include the country's "National Traffic and Transport Plan," the concept of sustainable safety, the Dutch approach to decentralization and cooperation in highway safety, and the application of corridor and area-wide safety improvements. Examples of safety programs and activities also are listed.

National Traffic and Transport Plan
The Netherlands' "National Traffic and Transport Plan," distributed in October 2000, is a summary of the expected approach to traffic and transport issues between 2001 and 2020.(9) The plan acknowledges the need for mobility, but adds that it must be balanced with accessibility, safety, and quality-of-life issues. A section of the plan focuses on roadway safety. Key areas of consideration for roadway safety include creation of a sustainable safe roadway infrastructure, intensified traffic enforcement and new regulations, information campaigns and permanent traffic education, and introduction of in-vehicle technologies.

The Netherlands is believed to have been the first country to commit to quantitative roadway safety goals.(10) The country has had long-term national safety goals since at least the late 1980s. The roadway safety improvement goal stated in the "National Traffic and Transport Plan" is a 25 percent reduction in fatalities and hospitalizations between 2001 and 2010. This goal is equivalent to a 30 percent reduction in fatalities (with a annual maximum of 750) and a 25 percent reduction in serious injuries (with a maximum of 14,000) by 2010, compared to the 1997-1999 average. The Institute for Road Safety Research has determined that achieving the target reduction for fatalities by 2010 is possible, but the reduction in serious injury and hospitalizations will require more work.

The goals in the "National Traffic and Transport Plan" form the basis of the safety plans, policies, and goals created at lower levels of government. For example, regional or provincial safety improvement reduction goals are the same as those stated in the national plan, but are adjusted for areas expecting large population increases. Details of regional plans are based on programming and implementation documents, as well as on capabilities and resources. Municipal safety plans are not required in the Netherlands, but these jurisdictions do indicate how they will help achieve national safety targets.

Sustainable Safety Concept
The Netherlands' current approach to roadway safety is the most recent stage in a series of advancements over several decades. During the 1980s and early 1990s, roadway safety was directed by a spearhead policy. The measures in this policy were generally reactive and mitigated the improvement of locations with known safety problems, such as black spots. It focused on activities related to the identification and improvement of black spots, speeding and speed management, drunk driving, cyclist and moped driver training, heavy vehicle safety, and promotion of such safety devices as seatbelts, helmets, and roadside barriers. The current strategy, "sustainable safety," was introduced in 1990. This approach to safety improvements is more proactive and preventive than past strategies.

The underlying philosophy of the sustainable safety approach is that roadway designs should be oriented to the human being, and that prevention and proactive safety improvements are better than a reactive approach of improving facilities after crashes have occurred. The sustainable safety approach encourages roadway environments designed to address the limitations of roadway users, vehicles with technologies that simplify the driving task and protect other road users, and roadway users who are educated and well informed.

The roadway design principles of sustainable safety are:

  • Functionality, or designing to prevent unintended use.
  • Homogeneity, or designing to prevent major variations in speed, direction, and mass of vehicles at moderate and high driving speeds.
  • Predictability, or designing to prevent uncertainty in roadway user actions.(11)

Sustainable safety calls for roadways with similar functions to be designed in a similar manner to serve the appropriate roadway user and facilitate acceptable decisions, such as speed choice. These types of roadways are called "self-explaining."

The Netherlands is implementing the sustainable safety approach in two phases. The first phase (1997 to 2001) focused on feasible and practical applications of safety improvement measures. The start-up program for the first phase included 24 actions. They included creating roadway classification plans, expanding urban 18 miles-perhour and 36 miles-per-hour (30 and 60 kilometers-per-hour) zones, better assignment of priority on traffic arterials, standardized priority at roundabouts, roadway rules for mopeds, increased enforcement and education programs, and priority to cyclists from the right. In addition, the protocol for roadway safety audits was developed and tested in 1998, and audit training was conducted in 2001. Roadway safety audits, however, have not been formally adopted in the Netherlands as a requirement for transportation infrastructure projects.

Phase two of the sustainable safety implementation plan starts in 2002 and is planned to end in 2010. This phase will include education and enforcement measures, vehicles and vehicle technologies, spatial planning issues, and measures for the private transport sector. In addition, the 18 and 36 miles-per-hour (30 and 60 kilometers-per-hour) zones will be expanded, arterials will be re-engineered, and more communication and enforcement on alcohol and drug use will be added. In addition, safety activities will be targeted at schools, parents, and students, and a general increase in safety awareness will be promoted. More post-school education and safety training are envisioned.

Decentralization and Cooperation
Two key components of effective highway safety implementation in the Netherlands are appropriate decentralization of responsibility and a culture of coordination and cooperation. In the "National Traffic and Transport Plan," the Dutch government recognized that its ability to meet national fatality reduction goals would require the decentralization of roadway safety improvement responsibilities. Many crashes occur on 30 and 48 miles-per-hour (50 and 80 kilometers-per-hour) roadways, and the goal was to assign responsibility to those levels of government where the improvement could be accomplished most effectively. An official roadway safety decentralization agreement was signed in 1994, and required establishment of Regional Road Safety Agencies to systematically coordinate safety organizations and their improvements. In general, the Dutch government wants to "[d]ecentralize where feasible, centralize where imperative."(9) (11)

The decentralization agreement and the content of the "National Traffic and Transport Plan" were determined through a negotiation process called the "Polder" model. This model solves problems through close consultation and eventual agreement of all the groups interested in a particular subject. The Dutch understand that this process of cooperative and all-inclusive agreement may take longer than other approaches, but it is common in the Netherlands. The concept of sustainable safety was the result of consultation among national, regional, and local levels of government. In addition, a high level of cooperation and support exists between government entities and nongovernmental organizations.

Corridor and Area-Wide Improvements
The Netherlands traditionally has used an extensive reactive program of black spot identification for highway safety improvement programming. In fact, the Dutch developed a manual on black spot identification and correction and until 2001 subsidized local governments for these corrections. Over the years, however, roadway crashes in the Netherlands became more evenly distributed over the highway system, and as part of the sustainable safety concept the Dutch began to emphasize and implement corridor and area-wide safety improvements. For example, the Dutch have introduced 18 miles-per-hour (30 kilometers-per-hour) speed zones along local urban networks and streets with a relatively high level of pedestrian activity. They also have introduced 36 miles-per-hour (60 kilometers-per-hour) speed zones along local rural roadways, and begun to re-engineer urban and rural arterial roadways with 31 milesper-hour (50 kilometers-per-hour) and 48 miles-per-hour (80 kilometers-per-hour) speed zones, respectively. The locations of these zones often are defined by the preferred function of the roadways in an area and the expected crash frequency along a specific corridor or within a specific area. Measures to improve roadway safety within these defined zones are then developed, and often include geometric designs and traffic-calming elements to create self-explaining and self-enforcing roadways that encourage drivers to travel at appropriate speeds. The overall objective is to proactively improve locations with high expected crash frequencies.

Safety Program Elements and Activities
Below are examples of safety program elements and activities in the Netherlands that team members learned about during the scanning study. The list is not comprehensive, but includes activities of particular interest to team members.

  • The Netherlands has a blood alcohol content limit for drivers of 0.05, and would like to lower this level to 0.02 for drivers with less than three years' experience. This approach is similar to that applied in the United States for drivers under 21, but would include new drivers of all ages. The introduction of a graduated or provisional licensing process is also being considered.
  • The Dutch have a designated driver campaign called "BOB" that they consider a success. "BOB," the designated driver, does not drink and ensures that his or her friends arrive home safely.
  • Seatbelt and helmet use is required in the Netherlands, and photo enforcement of seatbelt use and speeding is common. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited except in a hands-free mode. Truck speed limits have been introduced, along with some electronic surveillance of truck and driver activities.
  • More than 50 percent of the trips in the Netherlands are non-motorized, and about 45 percent of roadway fatalities involve people outside a motor vehicle. This makes implementation of measures related to pedestrians, bicyclists, and moped drivers important. Many safety organizations in the Netherlands have human factors experts on staff. The Information and Technology Center for Transport and Infrastructure has produced both bicycle and pedestrian design guidelines. The general approach for vulnerable user safety in the Netherlands, however, is separating the different modes along roadways where the travel speed of vehicles and non-motorized traffic is high. The Information and Technology Center is also the organization responsible for drafting Dutch roadway design standards and guidelines.
  • The Netherlands has many measures to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. For example, sidewalks are standard in urban areas, and most intersections have crossing facilities. Crossing facilities for special pedestrian groups exist, and wheelchair routes are widespread. Guidelines for addressing the needs of the visually handicapped are available, and certain areas in town centers are open only to pedestrians. In rural areas, pedestrians are accommodated when the need is recognized through such measures as recreational routes. For bicyclists, cycle paths or lanes exist along most arterial roads for day-to-day use, and a separate rural cycle path network is provided. Protected bicycle crossings with bicycle traffic signals are common, and cycle parking facilities are provided at focal meeting points. Traffic-calming devices are widespread, and considerable attention is paid to bicycle rider comfort. Red asphalt has replaced tiles on bicycle facilities, for example, and the bicycle network is almost complete.
  • The Dutch use a rural two-lane cross section - often with some type of pavement marking or physical barrier to separate opposing traffic - along some roadways where passing is not allowed. This approach is acceptable because towns are usually close enough that driver frustration rarely has a chance to occur. When prohibition of passing is not possible, the 2+1 cross section - construction of passing lanes on alternate sides of the roadway - is considered as an alternative.
  • Computer visualization tools are used in the design and evaluation process to calculate sight distance on roadways.
  • A standard approach to road safety audits was developed in 1998, and audit training began in 2001. The road safety audit process has resulted in design improvements and is considered a proactive approach to increasing roadway safety. The application of road safety audits, however, has not been adopted formally in the Netherlands as a requirement for transportation infrastructure projects.
  • In the Netherlands, as in many countries, not all crashes are registered in the national crash record database. Typically, 97 percent of fatal crashes, 60 percent of serious injury crashes, and 16 percent of minor injury crashes are reported. The Dutch have devised a method to produce a more accurate estimate of actual fatalities and injuries by using medical, insurance, vehicle, road, and in-car information databases, along with data about mortality causes, hospitalized persons, persons aided at hospitals, and inquiry. The method, established in 1996, is the comprehensive system application of scientific extrapolation methods and independent sources. Other improvements for better crash data collection include consideration of more specific reporting standards, electronic recording for police enforcement, and a centralized reporting location.
  • Dutch legislation has established a number of transportation-related education requirements. Mandatory traffic safety education occurs in primary school, for example, and traffic safety is addressed in lessons during the first three years of high school. A compulsory knowledge test is required to use a moped at age 16. A license for driving a vehicle requires a theoretical and practical test at 18. People learning to drive in the Netherlands must attend driving schools, which are monitored and controlled by the agency responsible for administering testing for a driver's license. Drivers ticketed for being under the influence of alcohol must attend rehabilitation courses.
  • There is a general concern about the safety of moped and young passenger car drivers because they are the only groups for which the crash risk has not decreased during the past 15 years. The Dutch hope to introduce a practical driving test for moped licensing, a penalty point system for novice passenger car drivers, and a zero blood alcohol content requirement for novice drivers. Use of simulators and computer-aided instruction in driver training is being considered, along with regular proficiency tests for drivers, quality control for driving schools, and more traffic safety education in high school. Introduction of additional rehabilitation courses for violations such as aggressiveness and speeding is of interest.

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The scanning team met with representatives of the following organizations while visiting the United Kingdom:

  • Department for Transport, Local Government, and the Regions
  • Highways Agency - Traffic Safety and Environment Division
  • Highways Agency - Area Team 14
  • Scott Wilson International Consultants
  • University College - London
  • Transport Research Laboratory

The scanning team discussed a significant number of safety policies, programs, and activities with experts in the United Kingdom. The discussions summarized in this report are key components of the roadway safety programming and policy approach in the United Kingdom. They include the national safety strategic plan, national safety targets, integration of safety plans throughout the country, financial incentives for safety, and corridor and area-wide safety improvements. Examples of safety program elements and activities also are listed.

National Safety Strategy
The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain (Scotland, Wales, and England) and Northern Ireland. In 1987, Great Britain's roadway safety goal for the year 2000 was to reduce casualties by a third, a goal that was met and exceeded.(12) The three activities believed to account for most of the casualty reduction are increased use of occupant restraints, additional programs on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and implementation of roadway safety engineering design improvements. In addition, motorcycle riding, walking and bicycling declined. Government officials believe having a specific fatality reduction goal is one of the most important aspects of effective roadway safety programming.

In March 2000, the United Kingdom published a new national safety strategic plan entitled "Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone."(12) This plan not only included new roadway safety improvement targets, but also described and prioritized more than 140 safety improvement strategies and actions related to the roadway environment and its users. Focus areas included:

  • Children and other vulnerable road users
  • Driver training and testing
  • Drinking, drugs, and drowsiness
  • Roadway infrastructure
  • Speeds
  • Vehicle design and maintenance
  • Enforcement, education, and information

The plan defined primary safety concerns related to each of the focus areas and described actions and strategies. Measures and actions identified include safety engineering, education, and enforcement mitigation. The measures and actions identified were prioritized as those that should be implemented immediately, in the next two-to-three years, or over the long term, as well as those requiring new legislation. Both national and local officials have expressed strong support for the content of the roadway safety strategy and its targets. The document content was a result of communication and cooperation in the roadway safety community throughout the country.

Defensible Safety Targets
The national safety strategy recommends implementation of several measures to achieve the 2010 fatality and injury reduction targets. The safety improvement targets, compared to averages from 1994 to 1998, include:

  • A 40 percent reduction in total roadway fatalities and serious injuries.
  • A 50 percent reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured.
  • A 10 percent reduction in the slight casualty 100 million-vehicle-kilometer rate.

The first two goals are stated as a total magnitude reduction, but the goal for slight casualties, which is expected to be the most difficult to achieve, is a rate. It has been found that safety goals stated as magnitude reductions rather than rates are better understood by the public and allow easier monitoring and impact evaluation of the measures implemented. The government has required progress toward national goals to be reported in two three-year documents between 2000 and 2010.

Experts in the United Kingdom believe the government's three safety improvement targets are achievable. This conclusion is based on supporting research and analysis used in their creation.(13) Researchers believe the reduction targets for those killed or seriously injured are conservative and may actually be exceeded. For example, the expected contribution of measures related to 12 policy areas have been studied and documented. These contributions are listed in Table 4. Achieving the reduction in the slight casualty rate is expected to be more difficult because safety improvements implemented to reduce fatalities may result in an increase of these types of injuries. Research supporting the idea that the safety targets are achievable was a key factor in the acceptance, development, and implementation of the national safety strategy and other highway safety plans in the United Kingdom.

Coordination and Communication
The content of the United Kingdom's national safety plan was developed through a significant amount of communication and coordination among safety professionals and agencies throughout the country. Coordination on highway safety planning between national and local levels of government appears to be excellent. This approach has resulted in active support of the national strategic safety plan from the highest to lowest levels of government, and produced a situation in which localities take pride in achieving safety improvements. In fact, a sense of competition on roadway safety exists among neighboring jurisdictions. Having formal goals has focused safety organizations on the choices and priorities that truly can reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

The targets and measures in the national plan act as a focal point and form the basis for highway safety plans developed throughout the United Kingdom. The Highways Agency - an agency of the Department for Transport, Local Government, and the Regions - is responsible for operating, maintaining, and improving the motorways and trunk road network.(14) This system represents about four percent of the roadway miles in the United Kingdom, but carries about 35 percent of the traffic and has only 12 percent of the crashes.(14) (15) It is the safest system in England.

The Highways Agency's strategic plan for safety includes measures and targets based on the national plan. The plan identifies and describes safety improvement measures and actions related to achieving the Highways Agency's targets. These safety improvement goals are smaller than those in the national plan, but are considered more realistic because the agency has jurisdiction on a system that already is England's safest and that is constructed to high design standards. The Highways Agency targets are to reduce the number of killed or seriously injured on the motorways and trunk roadways by a third, cut the rate of slight casualties by 10 percent,

Table 4. Expected killed and seriously injured reductions.

Area of Implemented
Expected Killed and Seriously Injured
Reductions (Percent)
General Road Safety Engineering
Improved Secondary Safety in Cars
Other Vehicle Safety Improvements
Cycle and Motorcycle Helmets
Safety on Rural Single Carriageways
Novice Drivers
Safer Conditions for Walking and Cycling
Reductions in Speed
Greater Safety for Children
Reduced Drunk Driving
Car Driving in Course of Work
Other Improved Driver Behavior
Combined Impact

and contribute to the 50 percent reduction in child casualties.(15) The actions and measures described in the Highways Agency safety plan are related to 10 road user groups and involve improvements to infrastructure, technology, education, enforcement, partnerships, and management and monitoring. To achieve these targets, the agency plans to coordinate with a number of safety organizations and local councils that have road and road safety responsibilities.

In England, local highway authorities are required to create and update a Local Transport Plan. The plan is intended to be a local vision for all transportation decisions, including a local safety strategy that includes:

  • 2005 casualty reduction targets supported by annual milestones.
  • An assessment of current safety problems.
  • A description of how local citizens and groups will be involved in casualty reduction efforts.
  • An explanation of how roadway safety is taken into account in other local policies.
  • Annually updated performance indicators and a prioritized list of safety improvements with expected results.
  • Education, training, and publicity measures that will be implemented.

In general, local governments in Great Britain are required to identify safety improvement targets that will help achieve those declared nationally. They can choose the measures they expect to implement to meet local targets, but they must monitor their progress toward these targets on an annual basis. They are also encouraged to participate in the Monitoring of Local Authority Safety Schemes program. This program is a database of information related to the effectiveness of local safety improvements. It can assist with the identification, expected impact estimates, and benefit-cost calculations of safety improvement measures. Local Transport Plans also include safety education, training, and publicity measures.

The United Kingdom government has produced "A Road Safety Good Practice Guide" to help local government and other transportation officials achieve local and national safety targets.(16) This document describes some of the more effective measures used to improve roadway safety. It is based partially on measures used in existing Local Transportation Plans. It includes approaches to identify, prioritize, and improve locations with safety concerns. Safety improvements addressed include single-site actions, mass action to make improvements at all similar sites, area actions, and route treatments.

Financial Incentives
The United Kingdom's national government funds most local safety improvements. For the most part, this funding is based on the content, implementation, and results of Local Transport Plans. How local safety funding is provided has changed recently in the United Kingdom. The new approach provides all funds in a block amount to the local government, and each locality prioritizes the spending of funds as it sees fit. The amount of money the national government provides a locality is based on its measured performance. In fact, financial incentives for meeting a number of goals, including safety or transportation performance, are available. About 75 percent of local governments in the United Kingdom have chosen safety as their financial incentive performance measure.

Route and Area-Wide Safety Improvements Similar to several other countries the scanning team visited, highway safety agencies in the United Kingdom have begun to focus many of their safety improvements at corridor and area-wide levels. Black spots, or locations with safety concerns, are still investigated and improved, but often are included in more widespread initiatives. Past improvement of black spots has resulted in data that show a larger number of widespread locations with similar safety levels.

A new approach has begun to be implemented that emphasizes comprehensive safety improvements along extended sections of highway or within specific areas rather than just at black spots. This new approach is data driven and emphasizes planning to implement cost-effective safety measures. A review of crash data helps determine and prioritize the routes or areas to be improved. For example, research has been conducted to establish safety improvement intervention crash levels for rural roadway sections. It is at these intervention levels that improvement of a roadway may be considered justified.

The scanning team viewed corridor improvement safety projects in Highways Agency Area 14, which is southeast of Manchester in England's Peak District. Management and maintenance of Highways Agency roadways in Area 14 have been contracted to a private contractor, which has completed several whole-route safety-related projects. A number of safety improvement measures are consistently applied throughout the corridors, but locations with special safety concerns are mitigated as appropriate. Corridor-level safety improvement measures implemented in Area 14 projects include high-performance marking and signing, intelligent roadway studs, new and more consistently applied speed limits (such as the same speed limits in consecutive villages), gateways, splitter islands, speed cameras, flashing fiber optic signs, higherfriction and colored pavements, guardrails, passing lanes, and improved cycle and pedestrian facilities. Preliminary data indicate that safety along the corridors has improved.

The United Kingdom also has experimented with the application of area-wide safety improvements. A project in Gloucester, a city with a population of 120,000, is known as the Gloucester Safer City program.(17) Because of the scattered nature of crashes in the city, it did not lend itself to a traditional black-spot correction program. The program is a demonstration project for urban safety management, and was funded at about U.S. $8 million. One objective was to reduce roadway casualties in the city by 33 percent by April 2002. This program used a multidisciplinary approach, not just engineering schemes, to improve safety. Key components include properly defining the roadway hierarchy, focusing through traffic on arterial roadways and residential traffic on residential roadways, and managing speed. The project recently ended, but in 2001 community-wide fatalities and serious injuries dropped 38 percent. Although slight casualties remained the same in Gloucester, they increased seven percent nationally from 1996 to 1999. An unexpected result of the focus on roadway safety was a 13 percent increase in the number of crashes reported. A similar demonstration in an inner city area is being planned.

Safety Program Elements and Activities
Examples of safety program elements and activities in the United Kingdom include:

  • Speed management measures often are used as safety improvement devices. Typical speed management techniques include the use of cameras for speed enforcement, interactive signs, and traffic-calming measures. For safety purposes, speed cameras in the United Kingdom are used only at locations with high speedrelated crash numbers. Interactive signs have been used on approaches to horizontal curves, where a flashing beacon or "SLOW DOWN" message is activated when a speeding vehicle is detected. Variable speed limit signs help reduce vehicular conflicts and speed variability in congested areas. The concept of self-explaining roadways is also being implemented in the United Kingdom, and traffic-calming techniques are often used to indicate appropriate driving speeds. At the location where a through roadway enters a village, for example, a gateway may be added and pavement markings and signing changed.
  • The United Kingdom has completed a general review of the speed policy.(18) The review includes recommendations for future speed policies and identifies areas for research.
  • Road safety audits have been implemented comprehensively in the United Kingdom. Independent audit teams consider the safety impacts of proposed improvements on all roadway users. Road safety audits, which are applied to all Highway Agency trunk roadway projects, are conducted during different stages of a project. These stages include the feasibility and initial design stage, preliminary design and draft plan stage, detailed design stage, and pre-opening or as-built stage. Use of road safety audits has been shown to be effective.
  • Transportation safety professionals in the United Kingdom government have realized that public opinion is key to the success of a safety program. They approach the introduction of a safety initiative by determining and understanding its relevance to the public.
  • Seatbelt use in the United Kingdom is high and considered a given in the area of roadway safety. Seatbelt use is required for all passengers in the front and back seats. For the most part, only small additional increases in seatbelt use are possible. Motorcyclist helmet use is also required.
  • One objective for future educational promotions is convincing roadway users that they should have the same opinion of speeding as they have of not wearing seatbelts or drunk driving. The goal of a major advertising campaign will be to make speeding socially unacceptable.
  • Research in the United Kingdom has found that marking a centerline on a twolane roadway increases speeds, so the centerlines on some minor two-lane roadways have been removed to reduce speeds. Edgelines are sometimes used on roadways without the use of a centerline.
  • Another area of interest is the safety of workers who drive on the job, because research has found that workers in company cars have higher crash rates than the general population. Discussion has centered on making worker safety while driving as much a priority as worksite safety.
  • Cameras to document speeding and red light running have been used in the United Kingdom for many years. As in the United States, it has been suggested that some jurisdictions used the cameras to produce revenue, but more people still approve of their use than disapprove. In addition, speed cameras for safety purposes are installed only at locations with speed-related crash concerns, and money collected is spent on additional cameras.
  • As in the Netherlands, more 20 miles-per-hour zones are being implemented in the United Kingdom. Research has shown that the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality is much lower at this speed than at higher speeds. In most areas, however, reduction in speed limits is combined with physical measures to meet speed reduction goals.
  • All police agencies in the United Kingdom use one crash report form. This information is deposited into a national database called STATS19. This information is used for research purposes and the creation of an annual national crash report.
  • Overall, safety planning in the United Kingdom has led to funding improvements with a minimum benefit-cost ratio of 10.0. Some are concerned that this approach represents an under-investment in highway safety and that more projects with benefit-cost ratios between 1.0 and 10.0 should be funded. In the benefit-cost analyses that are done, crash costs are based on a "willingness to pay" approach. The cost of a fatality used in the analysis is estimated at 1 million pounds (about U.S. $1.5 million) and the cost of an injury at 120,000 pounds (about U.S. $180,000).
  • All trucks in the European Union are required to have digital tachographs, devices that limit their maximum speed to 90 kilometers per hour (about 55 miles per hour). Buses or coaches are limited to 100 kilometers per hour (about 60 miles per hour).
  • Provisional driving licenses are possible at 17 with a theory test and a practical test. The pass rate for 17-year-olds is about 56 percent. Once the tests are passed a full driver's license is granted. Licenses for small mopeds - with maximum speeds of 30 miles per hour - are attainable at 16.
  • The Transport Research Laboratory is involved in a large number of safety-related research activities. It has introduced the use of laser scanners, for example, to quickly collect data and three-dimensional models at crash scenes. The laboratory crash tests vehicles and roadside devices. It also is investigating skid resistance improvements, and the scanning team observed the vehicle simulator that it is using in a number of projects.
  • A number of traffic-calming devices are used to reduce or control speeds in the United Kingdom. Examples include gateways, speed humps, and chicanes. Other technologies used include variable message signs and variable speed limits. Similar to the other countries visited, the United Kingdom uses the alternating passing lane two-lane roadway cross section, or the 2+1.

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