A large scale endeavor to save lives through safer roads was recognised at the TEC, Surveyor and EuroRAP Passive Safety Award 2009 at Traffex, held at the Birmingham NEC.

Durham County Council won the award for its commitment to reducing roadside risk, having moved from the use of individual passively safe sign installations to a more holistic approach of passively safe products in conjunction with road design and layout. This attention to detail has been demonstrated in the design and construction of several recent major road schemes where the road alignment design has been revised to reduce the need for road restraint systems and other street furniture allowing the creation of 4.5 metre clear zones. Where infrastructure is required (such as signs) it has been mounted on passively safe products. In the place of columns between junctions, high performance road markings and road studs have been used.

Recent examples of the use of innovative approved passively safe products are two schemes on the A167. Formally a trunk road, the A167 was transferred to Durham County Council as part of the national review of trunk roads in 2003. The lack of a central reserve barrier system on a section of dual carriageway and a number of lamp columns at, or approaching, their 30 year life expiry date were two major areas of concern for road safety.

A167 Crash Barrier Scheme: Following substantial testing, detailed site surveys and computer simulation modeling with barrier providers, Durham found a practical and achievable solution with the installation of a passively safe roadside barrier that allowed for the retention of existing trees and lighting columns. Not only has the barrier proven to be a benefit to road safety, but is also a cheaper option than replacing existing lighting columns and the provision of a standard central reserve barrier.


A167 Lighting Column Scheme: Standard columns with a barrier installation were installed along a section of carriageway offering protection for road users from roadside hazards including large trees, a park wall with a combination of stone walling and decorative steel fencing, and a footbridge. While the solution addressed all concerns for the location, the exception was one large tree, subject to a Tree Preservation Order, too close to the carriageway to meet the requirements of a standard barrier. The solution was the installation of the EN 12767 approved “Treefend”, recently imported to the U.K.


Durham County Council have demonstrated a real energy and enthusiasm for this work and have taken steps to ensure that the resultant policies have buy-in at the highest levels within their authority. They have understood the importance of documenting and recording the success of their efforts so that others may understand and learn from their work. For example, in addition to the usual collision analysis all crashes involving passive safety infrastructure are reviewed and lessons learnt. The Durham team are working alongside the Police to develop a crash reconstruction facility with the objective of assessing the injury severity for passive versus non-passive infrastructure.

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