On 20th March, the European Union Road Federation and the Spanish Road Association presented the final results of the White Roads Project, the cumulative effort of 3 years of work. The underlying philosophy behind the WhiteRoads Project is to create positive approach to road safety and focus on zero fatality roads, as opposed to the traditional practice of focusing on black spots.
A European White Spot (EUWS) is a road section of at least 15 kms long where no fatality accidents have happened during the last 5 years considered during the study. In total, 982 EUWS have been identified representing 40% over the total TEN-T road network and after analysing 85,418 Kms of roads and 248,158 accidents in the EU.
The main challenge for the consortium was the collection and analysis of data and statistics from 27 member states. This information has been the basis to develop the project. Throughout the project, the ERF and AEC maintained regular contact with more than 100 experts in road safety from National Road Agencies, Ministries of Transport, Home Affairs, Traffic Police, or National Statistics Bodies.
The need for very concrete information about accidents represented an important challenge as some countries were not allowed to provide any data due to strict privacy regulations. The lack of statistics or the existence of incomplete information has always a very negative impact on road safety. José Díez from the ERF described the difficulties and challenges faced by the consortium and stressed “if we want to achieve a goal and improve road safety, we need to know good data at our disposal”.
Elena de la Peña from AEC presented the WhiteRoads checklist which can be used to complement existing guidelines for the design, maintenance and management of safer roads as laid down by the Directive on Road Infrastructure Safety Management. In her words, “WhiteRoads aims to contribute at the creation of safer roads but, ultimately, an integral approach between users, vehicle, infrastructure, enforcement and governments is needed”.
The event was opened by MEP Ms Inés Ayala Sender who stressed the positive vision of the project and the inter-institutional cooperation to reduce accidents especially involving vulnerable users.
Other panelists, i.e. Mr Sangjin Han (OCDE/ITF) and Mr George Yannis (Dacota Project) focused on the necessity to improve data collection and methodology with particular focus on serious injuries. Mr Lars Ekman (Swedish Transport Administration) explained the Vision Zero experience in Sweden and its continuous improvement in road safety.
The panel was concluded by Mr Szabolcs Schmidt (Head of Unit Road Safety-EC) who described the policy tools used at EU level to halve number of fatalities by 2020 and congratulated for the 9% reduction in fatalities in 2012 in the EU.