Two_Harmful_myths_and_a_Thesis - Two harmful myths and a...

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1 Paper presented at Traffic Safety Summit, October 4-7, Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada. 1 Two harmful myths and a thesis 1 . Ezra Hauer The delivery of traffic safety to a society involves activities aimed at the road-user, the vehicle, and the road system. In directing activities aimed at the road-user and the vehicle, governments act in the customary role of regulating and overseeing others. However, when it comes to safety delivery activities aimed at the road system, the government must act as a self-regulating body since it owns and operates the roads. Self-regulation, as is well known, seldom works. Governments, as a rule, are loath to explicitly acknowledge that the road system which they finance from their budgets and which they plan and build under their own auspices using their own standards, also influences the level of safety in a society. The net result is a distortion of traffic safety delivery. It is in the interest of the governments to emphasize the role of the road-user and of the vehicle because the cost of regulating these is borne by others. It is in the interest of governments to divert attention from the role of the road system in determining how many will die and how many will be injured because the cost of a safer road system would have to come out of their own budgets. There are two myths which help to perpetuate this distortion in road safety delivery: Myth 1: Roads built to standards are safe. Myth 2: Roads do not cause crashes, drivers do. In discussing these two myth I will draw heavily on work of the committee to review the safety of Highway 407 (1). A 36 km segment of a 69 km long fully electronic toll freeway - Highway 407- has been built north of Toronto. When this segment of Highway 407 was substantially complete and readied for opening, the Ontario Provincial Police raised questions about its safety. The minister of transport decided not to open the highway for use until declared safe by an independent review. Subsequently, the Association of Professionals Engineers of Ontario (PEO) proposed, and
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2 later was asked, to constitute a committee of experts who will conduct such an independent safety review of the highway. I was one of the six members of the Review Committee. The opinions and interpretations offered here are my own and do not purport to represent the views of the Review Committee. 1. Myth: Roads built to standards are safe. Early on in the review we established a common view on what we believe to be true about safety in highway design. A recapitulation of the main ideas follows: a. There are no safe highways. Of two alternative highway designs, connecting the same two points and serving the same traffic, that design which is likely to have fewer and less severe crashes is deemed to be the safer one. That is, the safety of a road is measured by the frequency and severity of crashes occurring on it.
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2009 for the course CE 321 taught by Professor Petrucha during the Spring '02 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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Two_Harmful_myths_and_a_Thesis - Two harmful myths and a...

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