Human errors play a vital role in road crashes. This paper deals with the prevention of human errors by proper road planning, road design and improving existing roads within the framework of the Dutch 'Sustainable Safety' vision. This vision focuses on three design principles for road networks and for roads and streets: functionality, homogeneity, and predictability. A minimum safety level should be defined and agreed upon by all road authorities, national, regional, and local. Implementing this vision has the ambition to result in a considerable reduction of the number of crashes and casualties, and keep the Netherlands as one of the countries in the world with the best road safety records. This vision was launched at the beginning of the 1990s and accepted as a formal part of Dutch policies in the mid 1990s. This resulted in a so-called Start-up Programme on Sustainable Safety, not only addressing the planning and design of road infrastructure, but also strongly emphasizing this. The contents of the Start-up Programme will be described as the process leading to implementation. An overview will be given of implementation of different (road infrastructure) components of the Start-up Programme and the measured effects on road crashes. Attention will be paid to functional road classification, expansion of 30km/h zones and 60km/h zones, safety of mopeds and cyclists, and large-scale introduction of roundabouts, etc. Evaluation studies suggest a positive effect on the number of crashes and casualties in the Netherlands, leading to about 6% reduction in the number of fatalities and in-patients. The lessons learned will be used in defining the next phase. The Start-up Programme has been used to draft new guidelines and recommendations for road planning and road design. An introduction of this will be given, including some ideas on new road designs. Finally, some thoughts will be given to the next phase: how to proceed under circumstances where less public funds will become available. Integration with other policy sectors is suggested.
Sustainable Safety in the Netherlands: the vision, the implementation and the safety effects
Contribution to the 3rd International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, 26 June - 2 July 2005, Chicago, Illinois