Many believe that roads designed to standards are safe roads. In the companion paper the claim will be made that such roads are neither safe nor unsafe; that their safety is largely unpremeditated. Here the author relates three historical anecdotes to motivate the claim. The anecdotes speak of three prominent geometric standards: vertical crest curves, lane width and horizontal curves. In each case the design standards were written and repeatedly rewritten without factual knowledge of their repercussions on crash frequency and severity. It is widely believed that roads designed to standards are (appropriately) safe. This belief is based in trust; a trust that the succession of standards committees that formulated and improved design standards, did so on the basis of factual knowledge about how their decisions affect crashes. To shake the foundation of this belief the author presents here three historical anecdotes. These anecdotes show that knowledge of the crash frequency and severity consequences of design decisions played no discernible role in the formulation and in consecutive revisions of important design standards and procedures. The lessons drawn from these historical anecdotes direct attention to the design paradigm that has been shaped by the history and culture of civil engineering.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • The publisher's German name is Forschungsgesellschaft fur Strassen- und Verkehrswesen (FGSV).
  • Corporate Authors:

    Road and Transportation Research Association

    Postbox 50 13 62
    D-50973 Cologne,   Germany 
  • Authors:
    • Hauer, E
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 2000-6


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 11-23

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00794763
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FGSV 002/67
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 23 2000 12:00AM