According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year more than 85,000 people die from injuries caused by road accidents in Europe. In other regions these figures can be even worse. In lower and middle-income countries, injuries from car accidents are around the 10th most common cause of death.
Vitaly Eremenko, Deputy Director of Operations and Road Transport Operations for Western Europe at the AsstrA Group, tells us about modern measures to ensure road safety.
“The Vision Zero program was a breakthrough in reducing the number of road accidents. It is based on the principle of "zero tolerance" for road deaths and calls for designing roadways to maximize traffic safety. In 1997, Sweden was the first country to develop and introduce the program. Since the launch of Vision Zero, traffic fatalities in the country have fallen by 60%. Today the same approach is used in Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Canada.
For a long time, death and serious injuries caused by road accidents were considered an unavoidable risk of road traffic. Drivers have been traditionally blamed for road deaths, and responsible behavior has been considered the key to reducing the number of accidents. In many countries, therefore, the primary focus has been on educational work with drivers.
In contrast, the Vision Zero program emphasizes the design and construction of roads as the primary factor in reducing the number of car accidents. According to the "zero tolerance" principle, responsibility for road safety should be shared by road designers and builders as well as road users. When working on road designs, engineers must consider the "human factor" – i.e. the probability of error – and prioritize the safety of road users over the speed of travel from point A to point B.
Speed remains the main enemy of road safety. An increase in a speed limit leads to an increase in the risk of severe consequences in case of vehicle collisions. Tests show that if a driver hits a pedestrian at 50 km/h, the probability of death is 80%. At 30 km/h, it is less than 10%. In Vision Zero, the main challenge design engineers face is to reduce the likelihood of dangerous contact between road users. To do so, they can plan roads with multiple lanes, reduced width, curves, roundabouts, diagonal crosswalks, and speed bumps. Such physical obstacles force drivers to slow down.
Other helpful measures not related to road design include vehicle blind spot markings, which are obligatory in some countries like France. Also, professional drivers’ work and rest times can be regulated – as they are in the EU Mobility Package – to minimize the risk of car accidents due to overwork, fatigue, and reduced attentiveness.
Our company adheres to all local and international regulations governing freight transportation. Safety is an organizational priority when it comes to road deliveries.”
Author: Anastasiia Onoshko.