6th annual ASECAP Road Safety Conference
The sixth annual ASECAP road safety event, dedicated to « Deploying road safety priorities in the EU : the role of road infrastructure operators », took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 6 March 2013, with the support of MEP Antonio Cancian.
ASECAP is the European Association of Operators of Toll Road Infrastructures, whose members' networks today span more than 45.000 km of motorways, bridges and tunnels across 21 countries, applying tolls as a means to ensure the financing of their construction, maintenance and operation. These road infrastructures count the lowest rate of fatalities and accidents in Europe, road safety constituting a key priority of toll road operators as illustrated by the real-life examples given during the event's technical session.
Representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission discussed together with ASECAP about coordinated actions aimed at strengthening the implementation of current and planned EU policy actions in the field of road safety. MEP Mr. Antonio Cancian, event's host pointed out that although the aims for 2020 seem very ambitious, it is really the minimum what can be expected when it comes to saving lives on the road. While having good laws and plans for that is fine, we need to implement them and cooperate to that end.
From his side, Mr. Pawel Stelmaszczyk, Head of Unit in charge of Intelligent Transport Systems at the European Commission's DG MOVE stated that the goal of 0 fatalities between now and 2050 on the EU road will not be easy to achieve. In 2010, the EC established the objective of halving the number of fatalities on the EU roads within the next decade, which was a follow up of the previous programm of Road Safety. Although between 2001-2010 operators did not manage to level down the number of fatalities by 50%, they did manage to come close to that (43%). Now the new challenge is to bring down the number again by 50%. In 2011 the dynamics showed signs of slowing down, the number was reduced by 2%, slightly lower that expected, but the 2012 again showed remarkable reduction of accidents and fatalities. The exact figure will be available in mid March. Regarding the motorways, he pointed out the EC has analyzed statistics available to them and concluded the motorways represent the safest element. In 2011 only 4% of all accidents happened on motorways and 6% of all fatalities. Still even only 4% is a lot since it represents cca 50.000 accidents. Between 2001 - 2011 an impressive reduction of cca 35% is achieved in the number of accidents and 47% in the number of fatalities. This clearly demonstrates, as he underlined, as regards motorways specifically, data show that that the measures taken and the investments made are giving results. However, data also show there are particular road users that are more involved in road accidents, for instance 37% of all accidents involving heavy goods vehicles occur on motorways and 30% of them are involving buses.
Regarding other problems, Mr. Stelmaszczyk stated the EK is not immune to crisis and recognises the passed two years have been a challenge in terms of investments and it is important to look cost effects in improving road safety in these times of budget cuts. In terms of planning and new legislative proposals, EK is in process of adopting two particular pieces of legislation under the ITS Directive:
- e-call (great life saving potential - 2,500 lives a year)
- provision of information and reservation services for safe and secure parking places for trucks and commercial vehicles (that also includes buses) (life saving potential 44 lives a year). The point is to balance demand and supply, identify locations that are constantly booked and channel traffic to locations where parking is available. The advantages of this are numerous, including reduced driving time, compliance with obliged rest time for drivers, more efficient traffic etc.
In relation to this, Mr. Cancian raised two important questions we need to ask ourselves:
- What is the impact provoked on the driver for all the devices installed in the car?
- In the triangle driver-vehicle-infrastructure how can all the different systems be combined from the safety perspective (tolling, safety, privacy). It is important to understand whether we can safeguard the privacy of the citizens and drivers. Simplification of the role of the driver is needed and combining of safety aspects with privacy issues. This will be especially hard to achieve in these times of budgetary issues.
He also stressed out we need to coordinate the systems and improve the performance and efficiency of our infrastructure by using ITS in a smart way. We need to improve indicators on road safety which are comparable and of good and reliable quality (harmonize signalling, road codes and signs, improve rules on violations, enforce the Directive 2004/54/EC and Directive 2008/96/EC etc. Creation of systems that connect the demand and the need is important as well as helping people to implement all things in their daily life. If a social return is achieved, we will never be in debt.
Mrs. Ayala Sender, member of TRAN Committee, European Parliament reflected on more and more interest placed lately on clean cars. In relation to this, roads and highways will be in a good situation to compete on investment. She also said it is important to monitor the behaviour (aging population especially) and develop measures to educate and train old drivers, improve signalling etc. ASECAP Secretary-General Kallistratos Dionelis stressed that ASECAP members are fulfilling their commitment towards Vision Zero, in particular through the intelligent management of their infrastructure. He also insisted that EU policy-makers apply both a top-down and bottom-up approach, and invited them to set up a coordinating structure where policy-makers and industry can meet for that purpose. He streesed out the vehicle is not a platform of information but a vehicle that wants to move in a safe, comfortable way. Drivers do not need to much information to drive safely. At the end he concluded saying that we do not need to have higher safety but a lower level of unsafeety and the knowledge to use intelligence in an intelligent way.
For ASECAP President Klaus Schierhackl, the excellent results achieved are clearly based on the sector's integrated approach to sustainable road transport: "As road operators, we attach high priority to road safety; however, we do not see road safety as a stand-alone issue, but as an integral part of managing well our networks, in a cost-efficient way".
The second part of the conference was dedicated to technical presentations where real motorway cases on producing road safety were presented by 3 companies:
- F. Lenti (Autostrada dei Fiori SpA): Contribution of SIAS Group to the EU and ASECAP targets on road safety
- L. Vincentsen (Sund&Baelt): Road infrastructure safety in Denmark on the Sund&Baelt network
- F.-B. Hincker (Foundation Vinci-Autoroutes) & P. Jacamon (Fondation Abertis): ASFA members' safety foundations.
Presentations are available at www.asecap.com.