Designing Safer Roadsides with Passively Safe Street Furniture

10 05 2010

Passive Safety UK have published their Guidelines For the Specification and Use of Passively Safe Street Furniture on the UK Road Network.

We believe these Guidelines will be invaluable to the Road Safety Practitioner, particularly when designing schemes within rural areas. Casualty statistics indicate that the majority of sites for locating passively safe street furniture will be in the countryside. Safer roadsides are key to the whole concept of rural safety management.

There remains the need in built up areas, where speeds (lawful or otherwise) are likely to be high. The philosophy of minimizing clutter and creating a forgiving environment should apply everywhere.

Engineers should question “is this sign really needed?” If so, “is it impossible for the feature to be located outside the so-called ‘4.5m clear zone’?” If the answer to both these questions is yes and speeds are likely to be in excess of 25mph, then passive posts should be used. (The Guidelines recommend that an ‘Exception Report’ be produced to justify non-use.)

The Guidelines will also encourage the long-overdue debate, concerning the high involvement of roadside trees in the fatality figures. Approximately one death in every thirteen is as a result of hitting a tree. There is a fine line between destruction of our countryside by the removal of trees and the continuing loss of human life.

Road Safety Education continues to play a key role in making drivers aware of the scale of the problem and address the concerns of the environmental lobby. Alternatively, publicising the problem may have the benefit of reducing the need for the cull.

In any event, these Guidelines offer a structured way of evaluating and treating the problem. Through our involvement with AIRSO, we are delighted to support the work and ethos of Passive Safety UK. The new comprehensive advice given in Passive Safety UK Guidelines will make a valuable contribution to casualty reduction now and beyond 2010.

Nick Stilwell

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