EuroRAP’s Protocols

EuroRAP provides three protocols for measuring and communicating road safety risk that can be applied to any country.

Risk Mapping Colour-coded maps showing the risk of death and serious injury that road-users face on different roads with extra mapping for road authorities.
Performance Tracking Identifying whether fewer people are being killed or seriously injured on a road over time and identifying the countermeasures that are most effective.
Star Rating A Star Rating showing how well a road protects road-users if a crash occurs.

RISK MAPPING

Risk Maps are colour coded maps showing the risk of death and serious injury on individual road sections across a road network. Typically, national programmes map higher tier roads first developing the network to the regional level over time. EuroRAP mapping concentrates on rural roads outside major towns and cities, with an emphasis on route safety rather than cluster sites or black spots.

Road networks are aggregated into sections where they fall along the same numbered road, the design and operation of the road is uniform and where the start and end points are meaningful. Crash and traffic flow are assigned to each section. Data are compiled into three year periods to give a robust estimate of risk.

Safety indicators based on the road network, crash numbers and traffic flow are used to produce different maps based on the target audience. For example:

  • Risk per vehicle kilometre travelled: Aimed at individual road users, this measure shows how and where behaviour needs to be modified to minimise risk and, in doing so, enable users to recognise the sources of risk on different types of road.
  • Risk per kilometre: Aimed at road authorities, operators and policy makers this measure shows where the highest and lowest numbers of accidents occur on the network.
  • Potential crash savings: Shows the number of crashes that could be saved if risk rates on high-risk road sections were brought to the average. Used with cost information this can indicate locations with the highest returns on investment.

Ratings on each of the maps are colour-coded into 5 levels of risk:

green yellow orange red black
Low (green) Low-medium (yellow) Medium (Orange) Medium-high (red) High (Black)

Risk maps based on accident rates do not show the extent to which the behaviour of a specific road-user might result in risk being higher or lower than the average. They also do not show the extent to which the road-user can make a mistake and recover from it without serious injury. What they do illustrate is the risk of an individual road-user, or to the community as a whole, being involved in a road accident, providing that they are behaving within acceptable boundaries of road use (i.e, not intoxicated, not using a mobile phone, and obeying speed limits).

PERFORMANCE TRACKING

Performance Tracking uses the data compiled for each risk map to assess how risk on the network as a whole, and on individual road sections, has changed over time. The standard approach is to highlight those road sections that have shown an improvement over time (sections where there has been a significant reduction in the number of fatal and serious crashes between data periods), and those where there has been little or no change (so-called ‘persistently high risk’ sections). A number of statistical filters are used to shortlist road sections.

Performance Tracking of road sections over time has several stages:

  • data are initially analysed to identify sections that have shown a reduction in the number of collisions over time and those where there has been little or no change;
  • data for individual years is then checked to assess consistency of the patterns; and
  • in more recent years, highway authorities are asked for information on remedial, enforcement or education measures that have been implemented.

In addition to giving authorities prior notice of the results and the opportunity to respond, prepublication consultation is very important in building an understanding of a section’s characteristics, measures that may have been implemented during the data periods, measures planned in the immediate future, and any cost benefit estimates that may have been made.

The results can be used to benchmark performance on a national and local level but has proven particularly useful in comparing risk between countries across Europe and beyond.

STAR RATING

Also known as the Road Protection Score (RPS), Star Ratings are awarded to the way in which road design and layout affects the likelihood of a crash and the protection from death or disabling injury in the event of a crash.. The aim is to evaluate the safety built in to a road through design, in combination with the way traffic is managed on it.

Data on over 30 separate road attributes are collated through inspections in specially equipped vehicles. Trained inspectors assess and score the road in real time as the route is driven, or in the lab using videos captured during the drive through.

Results can be used to measure and map priorities for action and investment. Developments are currently underway to allow the generation of cost-effective, network-wide countermeasure programme for consideration by local stakeholders and funding bodies. See examples of this in low and middle income countries through the iRAP programme at www.irap.org.