Improving Safe System performance for intersections

A recent study by Austroads has found that to ensure Safe System performance for intersections  significant supporting contributions from emerging transport disciplines such as C-ITS, autonomous vehicles, and Movement and Place is required.

Intersection crashes account for approximately 30 per cent of severe injuries (fatal and hospitalisation) in Australia and New Zealand.

While research has been able to quantify the magnitude of the intersection problem, there is a lack of understanding surrounding the poor safe system performance of traditional intersection designs.

Current Austroads guides do not address this and there is little other practical guidance available to road agencies on how to modify intersection designs to minimise the occurrence of death and severe injury.

In response to these gaps, Austroads commissioned the Australian Road Research Board to investigate initiatives to improve the design of intersections so that they would be better aligned with the Safe System objective of minimising death and serious injury.

The study reviewed recent literature and data to synthesise the following Safe System intersection design principles: minimise conflict points, remove/simplify road user decisions, minimise impact angles, and minimise entry and impact speeds.

Using inputs from literature and data findings, a new safety analytical method, and practitioners, the study proposed nine innovative intersection design concepts seeking to increase Safe System alignment across a wide range of scenarios (urban/rural, new/retrofit).

These design concepts form a starting point for practitioners’ trials and refinement.

The study led to a conclusion that speed management and geometric design alone are unlikely to achieve Safe System outcomes for all user groups at intersections.

Autonomous vehicle technologies, C‑ITS and Movement and Place approach are some of the transport management initiatives which are likely to provide significant supporting contributions to the Safe System vision in near future. 

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