Traffic Screening: Secret Weapon against Traffic Fatalities

Zero traffic fatalities – that’s the goal of “Vision Zero”. In order to make road traffic safer, Baden-Württemberg relies on the traffic safety screening. Dipl.-Ing. Martin Pozybill explains what exactly this means.

The guide posts - part of the traffic safety screening - count vehicles and send the data via GSM to a central office. Photo: Fotolia - Maxim Kazmin.

The screening is an essential element in the traffic safety concept of Baden-Württemberg. All relevant information is evaluated on a platform. Photo: Fotolia – Maxim Kazmin.

Mr. Pozybill, the requirements of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport are clearly defined: In 2020, 40 percent fewer people are to die on the country’s roads than in 2010 as a major step towards a “Vision Zero”. What contribution can the road safety screening you have co-initiated make to this?

Pozybill: Screening is an essential element in the road safety concept of the state of Baden-Württemberg. On a platform designed jointly with DTV-Verkehrsconsult, all information relevant to road safety work is evaluated uniformly and the results are presented in thematic maps. The fact that we took first place in the “Best Infrastructure Project” category in the 2018 international eGovernment competition underscores the special nature of this system.

What are the concrete concerns in traffic safety screening?

Pozybill: For the entire superordinate road network of Baden-Württemberg – i.e. for federal highways as well as for federal, state and district roads – the screening brings together the information available for road safety work on a central computer platform. These include the monthly updated accident data of the police, the average daily traffic volumes of the road traffic census, the evaluation of vehicle speeds from the continuous traffic monitoring at now around 5,000 counting points in the country, the road network including the widths and structure data from the road database as well as the road conditions with corresponding road geometry and route photos from the road condition inspections updated every four years.

“Screening of this kind is probably unique in Europe,” says Martin Pozybill from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport. Here he shows a delineator with integrated counting technology on the L 1359 near Gäufelden-Öschelbronn. Photo: Matthias Gaul

On the basis of the available data, we carry out a nationwide road safety analysis once a year. We assess all accidents, usually over a three-year period, from an economic point of view and relate them to the average daily traffic at the accident site. To make road safety work easier, we also carry out network assessments and special investigations that consider individual accident types or vehicle types separately. For example, accidents from the road and impact on an obstacle, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents or accidents in longitudinal traffic.

And the results can be read out in route maps?

Pozybill: Yes, in a digital map the route sections and junctions can be displayed in green, yellow or red depending on the accident load. In addition, there are so-called road safety profiles, which summarize up to 700 individual information thematically. As a rule, each profile represents a section of the affected road exactly 100 meters long. With a total network length of around 26,000 kilometers in the country, this amounts to 295,000 individual profiles. Each profile of a road category has a ranking number so that the 150 or so accident commissions in Baden-Württemberg are made aware of the most critical points on the network.

The screening is therefore an ideal tool for the preparation and follow-up of the always necessary on-site appointment. The ranking also makes it possible, among other things, to use the available budgetary resources to improve road infrastructure where the need is most urgent in order to sustainably increase road safety. “Vision Zero“ is our primary goal.

The delineator counters automatically record the traffic volume and transmit the count data via GSM to a central station for evaluation. Photo: Matthias Gaul

So, you go into great detail during screening.

Pozybill: Absolutely right, we can identify for a district all places in the federal road network with poor road conditions, which have, for example, a high accident rate of motorcyclists in the cornering area and in which the vehicles also drove considerably too fast. Furthermore, since 2010, all 270,000 traffic accidents for the entire superordinate road network of Baden-Württemberg can be evaluated according to more than 100 different individual criteria.

For the period from 1 December 2014 to 31 November 2017, for example, we can determine all accidents on the B 500 Black Forest High Road which occurred on dry roads at weekends in the months April to September and in which motorcyclists suffered severe personal injury, which also drove at an unadjusted speed, came off the road and then collided with a tree or crash barrier. By the way: At the B 500 the motorcycle accidents declined after new curve guidance tables were installed from 21 (between 2012 and 2014) to nine motorcycle accidents between 2015 and 2017.

I think we have done real pioneering work with it. Screening of this kind is probably unique in Europe.

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