Serious crashes on inter-urban roads may be slashed by a quarter over the next 30-40 years with the introduction of automated vehicles, according to a report from the European Road Assessment Programme.
However the international not for profit association warns the ride may be “far from smooth”, with a mixed fleet transition and vital need for roads that cars can read.
The report, the third in the “Roads that Cars Can Read” series, examines the relationship between road infrastructure and safety for conventional and increasingly-autonomous vehicles (AVs) and provides a framework for infrastructure safety investment.
EuroRAP Regional Director and report author Dr Steve Lawson says the shift to AVs is likely to take decades and alter the crash types and risks we’re dealing with, as well as crash liability and appropriate countermeasures for safety and that understanding these risks will be important to managing the transition with utmost safety.
“Increasing automation currently relies on clear road line markings and signs that can be reliably detected, and road users need to be able to anticipate AV manoeuvres accurately for safe, smooth traffic flow,” he said. “Roads that cars can consistently and unequivocally read will be key to safety in the changeover period as the common factor of reliance for both driver-operated and automated vehicles.”
The report, a joint initiative of EuroRAP, the UK Road Safety Foundation and International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) summarises current crash patterns and countermeasures in Great Britain and illustrates with examples of crash countermeasures in the Netherlands and 14 countries through south-east Europe. It considers how each might change with the introduction of AVs.