Since January 2019 I am the Vice President of Portuguese Authority of Road Safety – Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviária (ANSR). Our Vision is a safe mobility word, free of road fatalities and road injuries.
ANSR is implementing the Safe System (SS) approach that implies a significant paradigm shift, from a “person” approach to “systems” approach. Traditionally, road safety policy has focused on correcting human errors, and road safety efforts have depended heavily on actions directed at the driver. This was a traditionalist approach focused on “individuals’ mistakes, blaming them for forgetting, inattention or weakness”, without looking at the road environment, and the design of the infrastructure and how it affects their behavior and their choices. The SS approach focuses on the conditions under which drivers use the road system and the construction of defenses to avoid errors or mitigate their effects.
This approach means shifting a major share of the responsibility from road users to those who design the road transport system. System designers include primarily road managers, the automotive industry, the government and of other organizations which involved in the performance of the road transport system and the way roads and roadsides are used, all have responsibility for ensuring that the system is self-explanatory and forgiving when people make mistakes.
The traditionalist approach failed, and nowadays, with the Safe System approach the world has reformulated its vision on road safety with more ambition and with a clear objective, which until the beginning of the century was unthinkable, Vision Zero.
ANSR is at the forefront of tracing the path of Vision Zero, but this is only possible with the contribution of everyone with responsibilities on the road transport system and with investment in safer infrastructure. This is a fundamental step to save lives and to build a safe mobility system towards Vision Zero, so Portugal can reach European and United Nations goals by 2030.
Everyone has the right to use the road without the risk of being involved in an accident that could result in serious or even fatal injuries and no one should pay with one’s life for a driving error. It is an inevitable price to be paid for mobility.
And everyone with responsibilities on the road transport system, have a huge responsibility. Our mission is the noblest mission you can have. If at the end of each working day we can save a life, we are making a huge contribution to a better future and we are achieving the best result any professional can hope for, which is saving lives. This is the essence of our mission.
A total of 4,880km has been assessed in the Portuguese road network. Could you please tell us about the latest EuroRAP Study results?
The EuroRAP evaluated about 20 Portuguese roads with an approximate length of 4,880 km (about 35% of the National Road Network, and 5% of the road network in Portugal).
These 20 roads were selected because they recorded the highest level of road and were responsible for 43% of the road fatalities.
Regarding the star rating, the results of this evaluation for the 4880 km of roads on the National Road Network and for car occupants are:
- 777.1km (15.92%) rated with 1 star;
- 1743.7km (35.73%) rated with 2 stars;
- 2052.5km (42.06%) rated with 3 stars;
- 282.0km (5.78%) rated with 4 stars;
- 16.2km (0.33%) rated with 5 stars.
The study also includes 4 investment plans, corresponding to 4 cost-benefit analysis scenarios. For each scenario the study indicates the total investment to improve the road safety of the roads under evaluation, and the expected reduction in fatalities and serious injuries, as well as the economic and social benefits for the society resulting of fatalities and serious injuries prevented.
According to the minimalist scenario, an investment of 25 million euros in these 4,880 km of roads, reduces the number of deaths and serious injuries by about 20%, saving 28 lives and 2492 serious injuries per year. In addition to saving lives, society would save more than 400 million euros over the next 20 years.
Another of the scenarios presents an investment of 100 million euros in the 4,880 km to reduce by 35% the number of deaths and serious injuries, saving 49 lives and 4356 serious injuries each year. The economic and social savings will be more than 750 million euros for society over the next 20 years, representing a 1: 8 cost-benefit ratio.
The study shows not only that improving the safety of road infrastructure is an investment with a high return – for every euro invested, society saves more than 8 euros – but above all that these investments save lives.
Road accidents are not a fatality nor it is an inevitable situation. Everyone’s contribution can make this tragedy preventable. In a modern society it is not acceptable for someone to die or be seriously injured as a result of a road accident. Every life that is lost, every person that is seriously injured is a tragedy that can be avoided.
The purpose of the road assessments is also to collect data that can be used in the creation of EuroRAP Star Ratings and Safer Roads Investment Plans (SRIP). Different specific investment options were recommended in the report. Have you yet taken an ultimate decision on an appropriate investment level to improve safety?
The 4,880km of roads that were evaluated are under the responsible of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP), the Portuguese public road concessionaire, that manages the National Road Network. They have been involved in the study and now it is IP responsibility to decide the best investments option to make the roads safer.
ANSR already asked IP for a calendar of the investment and of course ANSR will give all the support that is need and will be monitoring the investments.
There is no time to spare, we have to take action: the study shows clearly that investment in safer infrastructures not only save lives, but also has a high return in economic benefits for the society.
Considering the EU Directive -to make road infrastructure significantly safer across the EU- does ANSR intend to do further assessments in the remaining of the Portuguese network?
By 2024, all EU member states will have to publish the results of the network-wide safety assessment (safety ratings) and ANSR is working on that. We are now working in a European Consortium with more 18 member states to define a harmonised and common methodology for the 8 KPIs on road safety, where one of them is the indicator on infrastructure.
We totally believe that a more proactive assessment, like systematic risk mapping and safety rating, instead the more traditional reactive analysis of high accident concentration sites, is crucial for achieving the goals on 2030.
Lisbon council has announced a series of measures to improve traffic flow and road safety throughout the city. What is ANSR steps to support at urban level and would such road safety assessments be useful for driving urban road safety?
ANSR is working with some municipalities, like Lisbon, giving technical support on the road safety mobility plans, and on road safety inspections, after the occurrence of road accidents, for identify the measures that can mitigate the risk of new accidents and their consequences.
We are also studying some road safety assessments more aligned with the mobility needs of cities, compatible with the new trends and with vulnerable users.
Regarding regulation, we launched some technical manuals, for implementation of Residential areas and for 30 km/h zones.
Could you share a 6-word story about what EuroRAP is or has done for you
(On Road Safety) Zero is the only acceptable number