Using Technology to Inform Safer Road Design

Using Technology to Inform Safer Road Design

Written by: Will Baron

Technology has an increasingly important role to play in informing safer road design. It’s now common for local authorities, road safety partnerships and highways bodies in the UK to use collision data analysis software to identify accident clusters and take corrective measures. Such software is also being used to trial and evaluate the impact of new technologies such as innovative types of lighting or different types of traffic signals, as well as new road layouts and cycle paths.

Analysing accident data

In the UK, the police are required by law to document any road collision resulting in injury that is reported to them or where they are in attendance. This is recorded in accordance with a ‘Stats 19’ form, which captures key data such as whether the injured person was a cyclist, pedestrian or driver, their age, where it took place, the conditions and whether they were turning left or right etc. This is sent to local authorities on a monthly basis, where it is then kept in a database.

The data is an incredibly valuable source of information. This is why many authorities use analysis software, like our KeyACCIDENT system, which enables them to interrogate the data by running their own queries. This allows them to identify road traffic collision (RTC) patterns and identify possible common causes. Using recognised algorithms, the software can quickly identify geographical clusters, for example of collisions involving young pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. These clusters can be ranked so that recent incidents, or those involving more severe injuries, are given a higher weighting and it can also track whether adverse weather or road surface conditions were a factor.

Therefore if a number of accidents have happened on one road, the local authority could use the analysis software to quickly identify the types of affected user. If cyclists or pedestrians were involved at an unexpected level, they could then look at possible road safety measures such as zebra or pedestrian crossings, changes in priority at junctions, cycle paths or safe pedestrian routes. KeyACCIDENT would also enable them to look at historic data to see in similar situations, what measures had been most effective. They can then implement these and use the software to analyse the impact, by comparing data before and after the engineering measures were installed.

Data analysis software plays an important role in helping to inform road design based on real evidence about where and why collisions happen. Using this data can help to ensure we continue to reduce the numbers of casualties on our roads and also that we design roads intuitively to deal with the increasing amount of shared use roads with trams, buses and motorcyclists, as well as a growing number of cyclists and pedestrians. At a time when local authority budgets are stretched more than ever, this type of technology will also help to maximise road safety budgets by delivering the improvements that will have the most impact.