Road safety

From Academic Kids

The field of road safety is concerned with reducing the numbers or the consequences of vehicle crashes, by developing and implementing management systems based in a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, with interrelated activities in a number of fields.



Crashes seem as old as automobile vehicles themselves. Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot crashed his steam-powered "Fardier" against a wall in 1770. The first recorded automobile fatality was Bridget Driscoll in August 17, 1896 in London. The spectacular growth in motorization has resulted in a corresponding growth in crashes. And today it is accepted that in most OECD countries the cost of accidents amount to about two per cent of their Gross domestic product (GDP). In developing countries, these losses are greater than international aid and loans received, a fact that has prompted the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to include activities in this field as one of his priorities. In terms of fatalities, the worldwide estimation was 800.000 per year in 1999, forecasted to grow to between 1.1 and 1.2 million in 2010 and to between 1.3 and 1.4 million by the year 2020. (Silcock, 2003)

Many of the earliest innovations in road safety are credited to William Phelps Eno, sometimes known as the "father of traffic safety". He is credited with conceiving the stop sign, the traffic circle, the one way street, and many other features of traffic control that are taken for granted today.

Specific Interventions

The earliest methods for improving road safety included traffic signals and center lines.

Today, speed enforcement is one of the simplest methods. Impact speed determines the severity of injury to both occupants and pedestrians, e.g. 5% of pedestrians who are struck at 20 mph (32 km/h) are killed, 45% at 30 mph (48 km/h) and 85% at 40 mph (64 km/h) (Ashton and Mackay, 1979).

Speed is why traffic calming is also an important tool of road safety.

Limited access highways reduce the speed variation and movement within traffic. Although they were invented to make travel faster, they were found to increase safety as well.

High speed highways are now banked, to reduce the need for tire-traction. Also, roads are crowned, that is, made so that they have rounded surfaces, to reduce standing water and ice, which also increases the traction that a tire can provide.

Most street furniture is now designed to absorb impact energy and minimize the risk to the occupants of cars, and bystanders. For example, most side rails are now anchored to the ground, so that they cannot skewer a passenger compartment, and most light poles are designed to break at the base rather than violently stop a car that hits them.

Road hazards and intersections are now usually marked several times, roughly five, twenty and sixty seconds in advance so that drivers are less likely to attempt violent maneuvers.

Most signs, and center-line paint incorporate small glass spheres to reflect headlights more efficiently.

The lane markers in some countries and states are marked with Cat's eyes or Botts dots, bright reflectors that do not fade like paint. Botts dots are not used where it is icy in the winter, because frost and snowplows can break the glue that holds them to the road. Alternately, the dots can be embedded in short, shallow trenches carved in the roadway, as is done in the mountainous regions of California.

In some countries major roads have "tone bands" impressed or cut into the edges of the legal roadway, so that drowsing drivers are awakened by a loud hum as they release the steering and drift off the edge of the road. Tone bands are also referred to as "rumble strips," owing to the sound the sound they create.

The U.S. has developed a prototype automated roadway, to reduce driver fatigue and increase the carrying capacity of the roadway.

Chain of responsibility

Truck drivers, especially self-employed ones, can be given unrealistic deadlines to meet, and they speed and pop pills with inadequate care for safety in order to meet those deadlines. There needs to be a so-called Chain of Responsibility to bring supervisors and management into the safety loop, and not leave it all to the man at the wheel.


Top 10 Leading Contributors to the Global Burden of Disease or Injury
Disease or Injury Disease or Injury
1 Lower respiratory infections 1 Ischaemic heart disease
2 Diarrhoeal diseases 2 Unipolar major depression
3 Perinatal conditions 3 Road traffic injuries
4 Unipolar major depression 4 Cerebrovascular disease
5 Ischaemic heart disease 5 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
6 Cerebrovascular disease 6 Lower respiratory infections
7 Tuberculosis 7 Tuberculosis
8 Measles8 War
9 Road traffic injuries9 Diarrhoeal diseases
10 Congenital Abnormalities10 HIV

Source: Murray CJL, Lopez AD, eds.

In order to build a ranking, epidemiologist use estimated DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost as the measure of the burden of disease.

As can be seen, road traffic injuries are a growing health problem, and for year 2020 it is expected that will come to the third position.

Related articles

See also

External links: Relevant journals


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