Transport safety visions, targets and strategies : beyond 2000 : the first European Transport Safety Lecture.

Rumar, K.

The safe movement of goods and people is at the heart of the aims of the European Union. Society and the individual are dependent upon road transport and will be so for the foreseeable future. There are, however, a number of problems currently associated with road transport. The most costly are crashes, injuries and fatalities. The principal message of this Lecture is that the human factor both in terms of behaviour and physical vulnerability is the main problem in transport safety. Therefore, we have to take a number of technical and organisational actions to neutralise the human factor to achieve safety in the traffic system. Transport, in general, and road transport, in particular, are vital for the prosperity and functioning of society. The individual places a very high value on freedom of movement and car use. In order to identify opportunities for future action, we have to look to how transport grew and how problems became more pronounced. A brief analysis is, therefore, presented on the history of transport and why road transport became so dominant. The volumes and risks for various transport modes in EU countries are described and discussed. Road transport is predominant in volume as well as the number of injured and killed and risks per kilometre and hour. Rail is the safest mode. The worst safety records in road transport are found for two-wheelers and pedestrians. Road crashes are a major public health problem and should be treated as such. For example in the EU: (i) 1 in 3 citizens will need hospital treatment during their lifetime due to road crashes; (ii) 1 in 20 citizens will be killed or impaired by road crashes; (iii) 1 in 80 citizens will end their life 40 years too early due to road crashes; (iv) Road crashes cause 6 months shorter life expectancy; (v) Road crashes cause on average 2.5 years expected health loss; (vi) The injury risk per time unit is 40 times higher on the roads compared to industry; (vii)Contrary to other causes of death road crashes affect young people; (viii)Road crashes are the largest single cause of death for persons below 45 years and (ix) Road crashes cause the highest number of lost years of any cause of death. Road safety problems are split into first order (obvious), second order (semi-obvious) and third order (hidden). We focus too much on the first order and too little on second and third order problems. There is one major problem with road transport safety and three different approaches to improve road transport safety. The major problem is the human operator: the human body cannot withstand, without injury, collisions at speeds of more than about 10-20 kilometres per hour and additionally, the human operator always adapts to changing conditions in ways which do not always serve safety. The three principal ways to reduce these problems are to reduce exposure to motorised traffic, to reduce the probability of a collision, and to reduce the seriousness of injury and permanent disability. The means of reducing human error are also threefold: by selection, by improvement, by adaptation to human characteristics and limitations. These principles are applicable to all transport modes. Previous and most present road safety work has to some extent followed these principles. However, it has suffered from a number of deficiencies. Analysis of these deficiencies forms the basis and rationale for the range of proposals and recommendations presented for future road safety work in the EU. In an effort to focus attention the final conclusions are limited to ten key components in future EU road safety work (The Ten Golden Rules) which are: 1. Treat road injuries and fatalities as a public health problem (not as a complication of mobility); 2. Carry out road safety work along all three countermeasure axes (exposure, crash risk, injury consequence) and behavioural approaches (selection, improvement, technical adaptation); 3. Build the transport system around human characteristics (behavioural response, human tolerance); 4. Increase public awareness of road safety importance which is critical for future success in road safety work. Measuring traffic, driver education and traffic enforcement are important factors in this work; 5. Motivate citizens and road safety professionals through a road safety vision for the future and quantitative road safety targets, both nationally, and for the EU as a whole (e.g. < 25.000 killed 2010); 6. Encourage the private sector to take a more active part in future road safety work by making road safety a competitive transport variable; 7. Implement present knowledge and carry out research where answers are needed. In both cases an EU road safety information centre could play an important role; 8. Address the most important problems. Among the primary: Speed, alcohol and drugs (the EU should set ceiling limits e.g. speed and blood alcohol limits); an EU Directive on safer car fronts for unprotected road users is urgently required; Daytime running lights could be implemented. Among the secondary: Driver licensing and traffic enforcement; 9. Encourage and carry out effective road safety management by road safety indicators and results management; and 10. Support consumer information which can be fast and very powerful. (A)

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990382 ST [electronic version only]

Brussels, European Transport Safety Council ETSC, 1999, 21 p., 20 ref.

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