Tuesday, 5 November 2013: Southeast Europe’s stakeholders meet to discuss Road Safety in the region

In the framework of the SENSOR Road Safety Week organised in Grand Hotel Union in Ljubljana, Slovenia, between the 4th and 7th November, the High level briefing conference was attended by major road safety stakeholders from Slovenia and the Southeast Europe region.

Road Safety, a fundamental dimension of the transport systems

The Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning of Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Omerzel Samo, supported the conference and stated that activities and projects that target enhancing safety on the roads and sharing common values such as saving lives on roads and Vision Zero Strategy* should always be supported by the Ministry. “Road safety, particularly from the infrastructure perspective, is a fundamental quality of our transport system” Mr. Omerzel added noticing that “SENSOR project results will essentially contribute to improving road safety in South-Eastern Europe”. He also stressed that improving road safety in the region should be high in national as well as in the EU agendas.

Economic crises requires cooperation, lesson learning and good road safety investment plans

John Dawson, Chair of the International and European Road Assessment Programmes, said that most national governments had revamped road infrastructure programmes since their budgets are very much influenced by the economic crisis. However, work in many countries has shown that by upgrading the road infrastructure’s safety features, benefit-cost ratios of around 5 can be achieved, with the saving of tens of thousands of deaths and serious injuries over the next 20 years. Best practice examples provide important lessons-to-be-learned. John Dawson pointed out that top performing governments such as the state of Victoria in Australia had worked out the connection between the “left hands” and “right hands” of government spending. A $1bn “Safer Roadsides” and “Safer Intersections” programmes was now the centrepiece of road safety strategy in Victoria for a population of around 5m people. Investment in simple proven countermeasures such as roadside safety fencing is vastly exceeded by reductions in costs such as a lifetime of care for someone disabled. Not only does investment deliver high returns for the economy at large but, critically for cash strapped governments, it also leads to reduced financial costs in emergency response, in health care and in long term social care. Lower motor insurance claims costs also result for government and state agencies as well as for business and families.

Economic and financial arithmetic of saving lives

John Dawson underlined that all governments need to do the economic and financial arithmetic and connect the “left hand” of their spending on infrastructure safety and the “right hand” of their spending on emergency response, health, long term care and insurance. In response, the Minister said that he found the “left hand, right hand” proposition was compelling and one which he intended to take straight away to his colleagues in government.

There must not be trade-off between lives saving on roads and quick road building results

Talking about SENSOR project’s objectives, Ms Emma MacLennan, President of Make Roads Safe Hellas who is the Leader of the project in an emotional presentation stressed that “there are 10,000 deaths and serious injuries on the roads of South East Europe annually. This is an unacceptable social scourge and a drain on the region’s economy that exceeds 2% of region’s GDP”. The SENSOR vision of “A South East Europe Free of High Risk Roads” proposes that “a proportion of the finance planned for road improvements should be used to promote safe road design and safe road use” . Having important experience in road safety problems in low- and middle-income countries, Ms MacLennan said that “much of the money being invested by the donor community is intended for road rehabilitation. Unfortunately, an emphasis on quick results in the past has meant that some roads built with donor money have not been safe roads.” While majority of investments in SENSOR countries are donor-oriented, such observation suggests strong requirement for responsibility and accountability for future project. SENSOR project and RAP programme aim to essentially contribute in understanding the impact of later investments.

Slovenia as a frontrunner in the SEE: best practices and improvements

A significant proportion of the meeting was dedicating to the Road Assessment Programme in Slovenia. With majority of roads above 2* according to the RAP Star Rating methodology Slovenia is considered a frontrunner not only within the SENSOR consortium but also in the Southeast Europe region.

Road Safety Management is integrated into Slovenian National Programme of Road Safety 2013-2020. However, as Mr Ficko, Director of Slovenian Roads Agency noted, many improvements are waiting in Slovenia. “In Slovenia, 60 per cent of roads are in poor condition, most problematic of which is the 840 km of regional roads” said Mr Ficko. He added that according to the Slovenian budget provisions for the years 2014 and 2015, it will not be possible to rehabilitate the roads but most of them will just be maintained.

The importance of the involvement of the civil society around road safety was stressed by Robert Staba, the AMZS’ SENSOR coordinator. The civil society in relation to the Road Safety is either weak or neglected in many countries and actions for their motivation and empowerment should find theirs place amongst road safety priorities.

SENSOR - Working for a South East Europe free of high risk roads

The conference was concluded by presentation of SENSOR project contribution to the existing Road Safety infrastructures’ problems in the region. Dr. Evangellos Bellos, SENSOR Project Manager reflected the project’s mid-term results. Outputs include Risk Maps for Slovenia, Greece and Hungary. Similar maps for Romania and Slovakia are expected by the end of the year.

Moreover, 3.150Km of the Slovenian network and 3.600Km of the Greek TEN-T network have already been surveyed with the use of a specially equipped inspection vehicle. Road Surveys in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia are urderway. Training seminars and dissemination events are running in 11 countries aiming to raise public and political awareness of the road traffic injury epidemic.

All stakeholders expressed their satisfaction with fruitful discussion and promised to continue working together for road safety improvements in the region. The Minister raised expectation further by public promise to take straight away to his colleagues in Slovenian government proposal to increase road safety spending in the near future. They all agreed that activities such as the SENSOR project contribute essentially to the region’s safety measures improvements.

Press conference followed.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013: SEROC committee meeting

Under the framework of the SEROC committee, two road safety projects co-funded by the South East Europe programme, SENSOR and ROSEE, met on 6 November in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Following verification of SEROC Terms of References by the two projects few months ago, SENSOR and ROSEE project met in Ljubljana during the Safe Road week and discussed committee’s relevant issues. The invitation to meeting was well accepted by both project and meeting numbered 32 participants amongst which both projects representatives, technical consultants and observers. Ms Roberta Calcina, project manager at South East Europe programme’s Joint Technical Secretariat was also present at the meeting.

The meeting was chaired by vice chairperson of SEROC Mr. Robert Staba from Automobile Association of Slovenia (AMZS)

Working together for Road Safety in South East Europe

All countries in the SEE are performing poor in Road Safety in comparison with the EU level. Therefore, a holistic approach with all road safety elements included is essential to contribute to the road safety in the region. “The results of a single project are important, but what counts the most are complementary results of both SENSOR and ROSEE projects” Ms Calcina said at the meeting.

The special importance of SEROC committee is that it facilitates discussion about economic parameters to be used in road safety evaluations, definitions, road safety strategies oversights etc. Moreover, SEROC committee facilitates cooperation, assist in know how exchange as well as in dissemination of the projects’ results.

SENSOR project progress – contributing to a SEE free of high risk roads

The SENSoR project builds on the RAP Standardised Methodology, which is be applied in the countries of the SEE. The basic elements of the methodology are:

(1) The development of Risk Maps of E-routes across SEE countries;
(2) The Road Inspections of E-routes and major busy roads. It concerns measuring road design features that are known to effect crash likelihood and injury severity,
(3) The Star Rating of the inspected roads, to depict their Safety Level,
(4) The development of Bank ready investment plans of high return, affordable and capable to be implemented as free-standing schemes, in maintenance programmes or rehabilitation schemes.

Mapping SEE roads with high deaths and serious injuries rates

Based on real crash and traffic flow data Risk Maps give an objective view of where people are being killed or injured on a road network and where their crash risk is greatest, capturing the combined risk from road-users, vehicles and road environment. Risk is shown in 5 colour coded bandings ranging from high (black) through medium-high (red), medium (orange), low-medium (yellow) and low risk (green). High quality mapping to consistent standards are produced for Slovenia and Greece, whilst Risk Maps from Hungarian and Slovakian road network are to be ready soon. The consistency of maps allows road safety risk within and between countries to be compared

SEE busy national roads are being inspected by SENSOR using RAP methodology

Using specially equipped vehicles, software and trained analysts, road inspections are beiing progressing all over SENSOR countries. So far, 3.600Km of the Greek as well as 3.150Km of the Slovenian TEN-T network had been inspected. The SENSOR inspection vehicles are currently on the road in Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Hertzegovina and Croatia.

Interpreting and utilising Risk Mapping and Star Rating results

Stakeholder organisations and partners from Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia received far-reaching training in the use of the iRAP software and gained ongoing access enabling further detailed analysis and interpretation of SENSOR results in relation to the risk maps, performance tracking, safety ranking, coding, analysing and utilising of the Safe Roads Investments Plans. The last training workshop opportnity for staholders of the region under SENSOR project will be in Athens on 3 and 4 November in Athens Attik Hotel. Please contact SENSOR project for further details on participation and registration.

Conclusions: Identifying SEROC common actions and best practice exchanging

SENSOR and ROSEE participants at the SEROC meeting agreed to support each other in dissemination of results and thus contribute in practice to the road safety in the wider region. Inter-projects utilisation of both projects’ products is concluded to be essential to maximise the overall benefits of the road safety issues in SEE.

Thursday 7 November 2013: Working together on the SEE road safety: SENSOR and ROSEE projects mid-term joint conference

SENSOR and ROSEE projects’ members who are visiting Ljubljana in the framework of the Road Safety week lead a conference on road safety and discussed Southeast Europe's road safety measures.

The first panel session about road safety in the region involved in a joint discussion including Mr. Omerzel Samo Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning of Republic of Slovenia, together with important road safety specialists in Europe: Ms Kate McMahon, Road Safety Consultant formerly Head of Road Safety Strategy Division UK Department for Transport, Mr Antonio Avenoso, European Transport Safety Council Executive Director, Mr Klaus Machata, Austrian Road Safety Board Director, Mr Zepic Franc, Secretary - Priority Area Coordinator 1B of the EUSDR, Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning of Republic of Slovenia and Ms Calcina Roberta, SEE programme JTS Project Manager.

After the introductory panel session, the participants of the conference split into separate round tables titled “Behaviours, Speed Management and Vulnerable Users” and “Identifying and Improving High Risk Roads in SEE” organised by ROSEE and SENSOR projects respectively.

A key task for the success of objectives of two projects oriented towards road safety improvement, SENSOR and ROSEE, is a very good cooperation of all stakeholders. Tackling all dimension of the problem in the region is a crucial success factor to which SENSOR and ROSEE projects are contributing by joint actions.

Road Safety Weeks presentations

Emma MacLennan, MRSH, Road Trauma in SE Europe Evangelos Bellos, South East Neighborhood Safe Routes (SENSoR) John Dawson, Chairman iRAP, The SENSOR Programme Global and European Context Kostanjsek Jure, UoLJ, SENSoR Data analysis and procedures Robert Staba, AMZS, Working in Collaboration with civil society Gregor Ficko, DRS, Managing state roads in Slovenia Ivan Kapun, PP, Road safety and police monitoring in Slovenia Steve Lawson, RSF, SEROC and the gifts that SENSoR is bringing to the party