European Road Works Zones Leave Motorists in the Dark
Submitted: Thursday, August 25th 2005
for immediate release 25.08.05
EuroTest 2005: European Road Work Zones leave motorists in the Dark 15 European Automobile Clubs demand European Guidelines for road work zones
Europe’s motoring and touring organizations’ have piloted a EuroTest survey of major road work zones across Europe. Concern about the increased potential risk of accidents occurring in their vicinity as a result of inappropriate speed, congestion, motorists’ unfamiliarity with the zones, their design and organisation has driven this initiative. The survey revealed that very often motorists approach major road works (which can be anything up to 21 km long) without any prior knowledge of the length, duration or even the reason for the road works. Even while being rerouted around the road works zones few authorities provide drivers with information about the distance to the end of the road works zone. Foreign drivers’ unfamiliarity with the road works zones encountered abroad is exacerbated by the diversity of rules and signing applied along national lines.
During spring 2005, 50 road work zones were examined in 11 countries: nine in Germany, seven in Great Britain, six in Austria, five in France, four in Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands, three in Belgium, two in Croatia and one in Slovenia. Located on key European travel routes, all of the zones tested had long-term road works lasting at least 14 days covering stretches of highway ranging from one to 21 km long, with traffic re-routed often via contra flow systems.
The inspections of the zones, carried out by experts from the Technical University of Dresden focused on five key areas: the quality of the road signing and road markings, the traffic routing, information to motorists, the road surface and night time orientation.
In the final assessment, road works in Austria proved to be the most exemplary and motorist-friendly with the zone located on the A1 (Vienna Salzburg) highway rated the test winner. Our experts found comprehensive information provision to motorists about the road works, effective traffic guidance and stable protective equipment in place to separate traffic from the road works, with clean and clearly marked traffic lanes. Road works zones in Germany also scored well coming a close second behind Austria. At the other end of the spectrum, road works zones in Italy and Spain were found to be poor. The worst rated road works zone located on the Spanish M30 (Valencia Cordoba) in Spain’s capital city of Madrid, had our experts searching in vain for breakdown lay-bys, not to mention information for motorists about the roadworks. The lead in tapering area was very steep and short requiring an abrupt reduction in speed. With a low speed limit of 40km/h the traffic flow was slowed significantly.
Half of the road works zones inspected were rated “acceptable”, 18 were “good” and six were considered poor. Poor information provision to motorists by the road authorities on the road works zones was a major failing observed all over Europe. Road works zones differ considerably from country to country in the way in which they are organised, are sign-marked and generally designed. This diversity coupled with the different ways in which accident data is gathered and recorded across Europe makes it difficult to assess conclusively the risk potential for accidents in proximity to road works. Existing studies show that the likelihood of an accident occurring can be anywhere between three and 450 times higher!
Following the results of this study, the EuroTest consortium is calling for a standarised analysis of accidents at road work zones throughout Europe so that these findings can be used to ensure increased safety in and around them. Special consideration must be given to how motorists perceive road work zones and the work load placed on motorists driving through a given road work zone.
Furthermore guidelines for road work zone equipment such as traffic signs and road work zones design should also be standardized across Europe so that motorists travelling abroad are not faced with unfamiliar circumstances in each country encountered.
“Common European road works guidelines would definitely help motorists’ perceptions of the necessity for and acceptance of on-going highway maintenance rather than simply viewing them as an inconvenience especially in peak travel seasons. Standardised accident data collection Europe wide around road works zones would also facilitate better assessment of the risk potential for accidents that they pose. Findings and recommendations coming out of this EuroTest initiative will be submitted for consideration to the European Commission where the European road safety action plan is currently under review.” said Caroline Ofoegbu, EuroTest Coordinator referring to the next steps. END
Notes to the Editor: The EuroTest consortium consists of 15 motoring and touring clubs form 14 European countries. Our aim is to test mobility and mobility related issues and to raise the awareness of the public and decision makers about the quality of mobility. We have successfully done so since 2000 and will continue this year with two new tests. For more information please visit: www.eurotestmobility.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.