Possibilities of reducing the number of head-on collisions using road management methods

Kohtaamisonnettomuuksien vahentamismahdollisuudet tienpidon keinoin

The number of fatal accidents per year in Finland in 1995-2004 was a little under four hundred, on average. According to the statistics of the traffic accident investigative committee, about 25% of these accidents, or a little less than a hundred, were head-on collisions. There are more fatal head-on collisions in winter (October-March) (59%) than in summer (41%). Summertime traffic volume is greater, which means the risk of getting killed in a head-on collision is much greater in winter than in summer. Most fatal head-on collisions (74%) happen on main roads (highways and trunk roads), about 22% on lesser roads (local and connecting roads), and about 4% on streets, town roads or in private areas. The probability of being involved in a head-on collision increases at a higher rate than traffic volume. Speed appears to be a major risk factor in serious head-on collisions. Most head-on collisions (90%) happen on roads with a speed limit of at least 80 km/h. In nearly 30% of fatal accidents, the principle party involved was speeding, usually 10-20 km/h over the speed limit. In winter, over 60% of accidents took place in winter conditions (completely or partly snow-covered or icy road surface). Drivers' handling errors often have fatal consequences in winter conditions. Rarely were there abrupt changes in road conditions at the scene of an accident. Thus, poor road or weather conditions should not come as a surprise to drivers. On the contrary, carelessness, inattention or incorrect assessment of one's own driving capabilities (driving speed, swerving and braking possibilities) can result in an accident. A median barrier is the only road management measure that can significantly reduce the number of fatal head-on collisions. Equipping the road network with median barriers is expensive, and therefore impossible to implement right away. Before reaching the target state, the number of head-on collisions can, however, be reduced with less expensive measures like a vibrating centerline and a higher level of maintenance. These measures can only affect 20% of all fatal head-on collisions, but they are very cost-effective when implementation costs and accident costs are compared. Although all head-on collisions cannot be removed with these "lighter" measures, their implementation will bring road management into a safer state until the target is achieved.Considering Finland's special conditions (winter slipperiness, darkness, long distances), preventing all head-on collisions with road management measures is not realistic. This report may be found at http://alk.tiehallinto.fi/julkaisut/pdf/3201016-vkohtaamisonnettomuuksien.pdf

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  • Finnish

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  • Accession Number: 01043667
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: TRL
  • ISBN: 951-803-774-4
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Mar 9 2007 8:06AM