The Traffic Safety Problems in Urban Areas

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Jeffery Archer

As the number of people who reside and work in urban areas increases, so, too, do theneeds and demands placed on the infrastructure. This has led to severe congestion in manyEuropean cities, a situation which affects not only the environment in terms of pollution,but most notably levels of traffic safety. In Europe, tens of thousands of people are killed inroad traffic accidents, and more than 1 million are injured each year at a cost, which isestimated to exceed the total European Union budget by a factor of two. The majority ofaccidents involving injury occur within urban areas often at junctions, while the number offatalities outside these areas is greater, largely as a result of higher speed. Traffic safetyresearch has shown a biased interest in the problems associated with motorway and ruralareas in the past. There are many reasons, which advocate a greater interest in urban areas,in particular, those related to the safety of unprotected road users. In urban areas the trafficsystem context is more complex, where a mixed road user environment prevails and greaterperceptual and cognitive demands are placed on road users. In the past, many of the moresuccessful safety countermeasures have focused on designing the roadway to meet theneeds and limitations of road users. These solutions have, however, proved to be verycostly. Today, new and relatively cheap technological solutions referred to as IntelligentTransport Systems (ITS) have been developed which have the capacity to reduce exposure,accident risk, and accident severity. While the long term effects of these systems are largelyunknown, and problems associated with standardisation and legislation are in need ofresolve, systems such as Intelligent Speed Adaptation and advanced traffic control systemshave shown great potential with regard to the traffic safety problem in urban areas. In orderto effectuate this potential, a great deal of integrated multi-disciplinary research is required

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