Integrating Road Safety into Existing Systems and Policy

Authors: Claudia Adriazola-Delgado, Ben Welle, Suzy Charman, Hilda Maria Gomez, Michael Tziotis, Susanna Zammataro, Per Mathiasen, Suprunenko Stanislav, Victoria Marlene Smith, Catherine Willis

1. Introduction

Historically, roads have played a key role in the development of communities by providing required access to destinations, mobility, and transportation services. Therefore, from a social aspect, roads were considered a source of social benefits, comfort, and income, which often resulted in settlements along the main transport corridors. For a long time this situation was considered acceptable in low- and middle-income countries with very low traffic and car ownership, and where majority of transit cargo was carried predominantly by rail transport. Under these circumstances, road safety was not considered a significant social issue.

The situation is now changing due to economic growth associated with the increased number of vehicles, growing transportation and travel demand, traffic density, speed levels, behavioral changes, etc. Road safety has become a significant issue for emerging economies as unsafe roads negatively affect economic growth, public health, social development, and the environment. In many cases, low- and middle-income countries are unable to respond to these challenges due to chronic underinvestment in road infrastructure, especially challenges related to safety coupled with poor legal and regulatory mechanisms. Currently, road traffic injuries and fatalities cause economic loss of 3% of global GDP. This is much higher in low- and middle-income countries at up to 5% of GDP. Furthermore, seriously injured people are more likely to be excluded from labor markets and negative spillover effects are significant, i.e., not only lives of injured people are negatively affected, but also the lives of their spouses and children. Many victims are the main providers of household income and, when injured or killed, their families are often left without economic support (IFRC, 2013). There is evidence that following an accident that seriously injures a person of adult age (i.e., an income earner), 70 percent of families fall into long-term poverty and stay in that condition (Global Road Safety Partnership, 2007). These injuries and fatalities thus place substantial economic burden on developing countries. The economic cost globally is estimated at between $64.5 billion and $100 billion (Global Partnership for Road Safety, 2013). Hence, a direct link between road safety and reduction of poverty can be assumed (IFRC, 2013). This indicates that improving road safety will lead to higher economic growth. Considering the costs of lives, the burden on hospitals and health systems, and the impact on the youngest segment of the population, the majority of road safety investments are economically viable and beneficial (i.e. typically, greater than 10% economic internal rate of return). Therefore, in theory, good government policies should support greater public spending on road safety improvements.

2. UN Sustainable Development Goals and road safety

Road safety has become central to many international agendas including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 SDGs. World leaders have identified road safety and mobility as crucial components in achieving the overall aim of ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030. Sustainable Development Goal 3 states that we must "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages." The importance of road safety is highlighted in Target 3.6 which states "by 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents." Furthermore, Goal 11 states that we must "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable." In Target 11.2, the new agenda urges the international community to "provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons by 2030." The SDGs highlight the importance of existing and future cities in the road safety realm. The new SDGs mark the first time that road safety has been included in a high-level international agenda.

3. National and sub-national policies on road safety

Despite the growing problem of traffic fatalities globally, specifically in low- and middle-income countries, many countries and sub-national governments lack the proper policies and capacity to provide safer roads and mobility. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, only 7% of the world’s population is governed by comprehensive road safety laws that address road safety systematically through better design of roads, safety in travel modes such as cycling and walking or provision of high quality mass transport (WHO 2013). This lack of proper policies and capacity is particularly a problem in countries with high road injury and fatality rates. Alternatively, the Safe System approach is an opportune method to comprehensively address these topics of safer roads and mobility, and others outlined in the Decade of Action, such as safer road users and safer vehicles

The Safe System approach reframes the way in which road safety is viewed and managed.  It recognizes that humans will make mistakes on the road (OECD/ITF 2008).  Given that humans are fallible, road designers need to create safer transport systems that minimize the consequences of human error.  A more forgiving road system reduces the chance of serious or life threatening crashes.  Safe System promotes a shared responsibility for road safety; Road designers are responsible for constructing a system that accounts for human error, just as road users need to be responsible for following traffic laws and regulations. The Safe Systems approach recognizes that although official statistics tend to point to driver behavior as the cause of collisions, it is wrong to place the blame for road casualties entirely on road users. In fact, faulty road layout, faulty intersections, and poor pedestrian crossings play a significant role in frequency and severity of crashes, specifically those involving pedestrians. The World Bank report, “Death on Wheels” considers inadequate road design features such as those that expose vulnerable road users as one of the top causes of high road injury rates in the CIS region. To address this, the Safe System ensures that road safety policies are comprehensive. This means looking across the entire road system to consider enforcement, data collection, infrastructure, speed limits, provision of mass transport, technology, driver behavior, and more (OECD/ITF 2008).

A World Bank report on Safe Systems notes that the challenge for low and middle-income countries “will be to benefit from the lessons learned, to avoid the unnecessary and unacceptably high level of deaths and injuries experienced in high-income countries” and to “shift rapidly and directly to a Safe System approach with a results focus which aims to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries, rather than chart a fatalistic pathway that accepts these impacts as an inevitable price of economic progress.” (Bliss and Breen, 2009) In addition, the report notes that “the challenge for high-income countries will be to continue to innovate on the basis of sound safety principles and go beyond what is currently known to be effective, to achieve even higher levels of safety performance.”The World Bank highlights that a Safe System approach is also well attuned to the high priority global, regional and country development goals of sustainability, harmonization and inclusiveness because efforts focused on, for example, safer walking and cycling or mass transport can help reduce local air pollution, greenhouse gases and energy consumption.

The Safe System approach was pioneered by Sweden’s Vision Zero policy and the Netherlands’ Sustainable Safety approach. Success with the system in these and other countries resulted the spread of the approach, and the name Safe System was termed. Other countries that have recently adopted the approach either in formal policy or through road safety agencies include Australia and New Zealand, and countries with holistic approaches very similar to the Safe System include Japan and Korea. Additionally, on the subnational level within the United States, Minnesota and Washington state governments have initiated Safe System style policies with positive results. Such strategies have also been successfully applied in cities, with megacity New York City using the system and many Scandinavian cities using the earlier forms of the approach.

The Safe System approach is one that can be applied in a broad context, from countries to cities, across geographic regions, and at different stages of development. There is no secret formula to Safe Systems, but rather an agreement by policymakers to address all the areas that contribute to the road safety problem, ensuring safe people, safe roads, and safe vehicles. When it comes to safer roads and mobility, the following key issues should be considered.

3.1 Creating Safer Cities through Sustainable Mobility and Urban and Street Design

The safe system focuses on the safety of all road users, and places particular emphasis on safety of vulnerable users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Vulnerable road users can account for up to half of all traffic fatalities. Providing safer conditions for these users, especially in cities, can mean reducing overall vehicle travel due to less people driving and more people walking and cycling. In addition, safer mobility can be provided through high quality mass transport that can move more people with lower safety risk. Traditionally, traffic safety initiatives have focused heavily on road user behavior through enforcement and education. Although important, there is increasing evidence suggesting that design of urban space and streets also serves a critical role. There are an infinite number of design elements to consider when trying to build a city free of traffic fatalities and serious injuries. WRI’s publication, “Cities Safer by Design” presents guidelines and worldwide case studies of design principles to improve traffic safety in cities. Here are several design principles that can dramatically improve road safety.

Avoid urban sprawl. Cities that are connected and compact are generally safer than sprawled cities. For example, the compact city of Tokyo has one of the lowest traffic fatality rates in the world with less than 1.3 deaths per 100,000 residents. On the other hand, sprawling Atlanta has a traffic fatality rate of 12.0 deaths per 100,000 residents. Cities should aim for smaller block sizes to reduce the need for car travel and promote active and/or public transport.

Reduce speeds. Lower travel speeds allow shorter stopping distance as well as provide longer time for drivers to react and take evasive maneuver actions. If the crash does occur, pedestrian death risk declines significantly with lower speeds.

Create streets for everyone. Urban streets need to be designed for everyone by ensuring designated, safe road spaces for all road user types including pedestrians, cyclists, private motorists, and public transit. This can be in the form of pedestrian facilities (refuge islands, crossings, etc.) and bicycle facilities (bike paths, lanes, and signals). This ensures the safety and convenience of mobility for all road user types.

Ensure safe access to public transit. The vast majority of public transit users complete their first- and last-mile of their commutes via active transport. Therefore, ensuring safe access to transit by foot is critical in making public transit a safe mobility option.

While public transit has been shown to be a safer and more sustainable option for mobility, cities in the developing world have not had the resources to implement high standard transit networks. In the 1980s however, this began to change with the introduction of the first Bus Rapid Transit corridors in Latin America. Today BRTs are being implemented in cities across the developing world and are growing explosively providing a solution to mobility needs of the people. This creates a need to better understand their impacts on safety and the urban environment. Previous research has found that BRTs have tremendous potential to create safer cities, unlike other transit investments, because of the way that they compel cities to evaluate and redesign their streets to prioritize people rather than cars. WRI’s publication, “Traffic Safety on Bus Priority Systems” is a product of several years of international work with BRT projects and research on their effectiveness, and is producing results in developing cities. This research is based on the results of numerous road safety audits and inspections of bus systems around the world over the past 5 years. Accident and street data was collected from cities and analyzed to create crash frequency models to better understand the impact of these bus corridors on accident rates.

Road safety audits and road assessment programs. A road safety inspection is defined as a systematic review of an existing road with the intention to identifying conditions of potential hazard to road users. The purpose of road safety inspections of existing roads is to improve their safety level by identifying and remedying hazardous conditions, faults and deficiencies along the road that can lead to serious accidents. These programs use the well-established practices of safe road design, traffic operation, and road safety measures.

National and sub-national governments can establish policies requiring road safety audits for new transport projects. In addition, major multilateral development banks have established guidelines for road safety within projects, one of which is to undertake road safety auditing. By doing so, safety can be improved at the genesis of road and transport project designs. Road assessment programs can be established to address issues related to existing roads. In addition, policymakers can require the review of dangerous intersections and areas within road networks, either through black spot analysis (i.e. analysis of high frequency crash locations) or addressing road safety along key corridors and areas. Traffic crash data can be mapped to identify such areas. In this report, case studies are provided from national and sub-national level examples that embody the Safe System approach and the benefits of pursuing such a strategy.

3.2 Case Studies

Case studies provide a valuable example of the SafeSystem approach at different levels. This section contains notable examples. In addition, iRAP has prepared brief case-study information sheets to summarize progress and celebrate successes of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

iRAP Global case-studies:

3.2.1 National

Sweden: Vision Zero. In 1998, the Swedish parliament enacted a law creating Vision Zero with an 11-point program constructed to implement the legislation (McCarthy 2007).  Implementation was based on the scientific principle that kinetic energy is the real cause of deaths and serious injuries on the road (Belin et al. 2012).  It was therefore decided that the design of the road system must lower these energy levels and an emphasis must be put on changing the design of the country’s most dangerous roads and urban streets. The subsequent construction of 1,500 kilometers of "2+1" roads (each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking) has saved around 145 lives over the first decade of Vision Zero (Economist 2014). In addition, 12,600 safe crossings, from zebra striping to traffic calming, are estimated to have halved the number of pedestrian deaths over the past five years. The safety of public transport services was addressed to both lower injuries and promote sustainable modes of transport.  These are just a few of the many safety interventions implemented across Sweden that take a comprehensive approach and account for human fallibility.

iRAP National case-studies:

3.2.2 Sub-national

U.S. states deploy Safer Systems:U.S. states deploy Safe Systems: Since 2001, about 30 U.S. states have adopted the goal to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero (Munnich et al. 2012). Washington State (2000) and Minnesota (2003) were the first states to adopt a zero road fatalities goal into their road safety plans (Munnich et al. 2012).  Minnesota’s approach embodies the values found in Safe Systems. The state worked to prioritize safety at intersections and include the design of roads in this effort, in addition to enforcement and other programs. One key success identified in the state’s program is its use of performance-based, data-driven methods to locate where safety interventions are needed. Research has shown that U.S. states with Total Zero Death (TZD) programs have greater road fatality reduction then states without TZD programs.  All statistical tests reveal that TZD programs accelerate the reduction of road fatality rates when compared to other states, though implementation can take time (Douma et al. 2012). This acceleration rate will vary from state to state, but Minnesota has shown continual decrease in deaths, has reached a record low for the past 60 years, and has averaged an additional 3.5% decrease every year.

Abu Dhabi: Progress and meeting targets for safer systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) data report for Traffic Accident Casualties within the UAE reflected a very serious toll of 24 deaths per 100,000 in 2008. In the same year, Abu Dhabi recorded 375 fatalities which further increased to 412 fatalities in 2009. This fatality rate was considered very high in comparison to other similar countries in the region, and thus demanded immediate action. The authorities in Abu Dhabi recognized that the number of road deaths and injuries could only be reduced by pursuing an integrated approach to road safety across all relevant sectors. Authorities saw that death and injury on the roads were not an inevitable consequence of mobility and should be tackled vigorously in order to improve the quality of life for people in Abu Dhabi.  The initial key target was to reduce the road fatality rate per 100,000 people by 30% from a baseline of 24 in 2008 to 17 by 2021. Achieving this target would save over 1,200 lives over 10 years. Among other efforts to improve vehicles and emergency care, the strategy placed emphasis on safer road infrastructure and speed management through a Safe System approach.

In 2010 the government set up a multiagency body called the Road Safety Committee, consisting of the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, other municipalities within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Department of Transport, Urban Planning Council, police department, and health and education authorities. The Committee has since taken on a number of initiatives including: the establishment of an operational road safety unit to build talent among road engineers to improve design, introduction of road safety audits across all proposed road schemes, creation of a road safety assessment program to review over 2700 km of roads to identify black spots and to categorize areas for intervention, development of road safety and traffic calming manuals, and creation of consistent street design guidelines to prioritize safety of vulnerable users.  According to Abu Dhabi crash data, the total number of road fatalities had fallen to 288 by 2013, showing that the 30% reduction target set by the strategy had been achieved in just 5 years.

Case Studies:

4. Opportunities for development banks to influence road safety

Road safety is a complex issue which requires a set of thorough legal and regulatory measures together with significant investments in infrastructure development. Good standards for road design, technical standards for construction, and standards for vehicles and equipment all significantly improve road safety conditions. Additionally, policy tools such as country-wide policy setting and action plans, a regulatory framework and its enforcement, financial and other penalties, data collection and capacity building of related authorities, and corporate and public awareness campaigns are all critical to building the foundation necessary to systematically address road safety.

Once a road has been designed and constructed to an insufficient standard, it is much more difficult and costly to improve it to a safe level. Reducing the risks to road users for an existing unsafe road requires significantly more investment than would have been required had the road originally been designed to an appropriate, safe standard. Once designed and built inappropriately, the road will remain as a source of significant road safety risk for 10- 20 years until the next major rehabilitation work is performed. This problem becomes even more acute for communities living along main transit corridors going through settlements.

4.1 European Bank for Reconstruction Development

The EBRD strives to incorporate road safety considerations into the Road Project Preparation Process as early as possible in order to ensure that relevant measures are designed from the beginning. Brief overview how road safety is integrated into the road project process can be found in Annex 1. In most cases for the state road network and main transport corridors it is a responsibility of the State Road Service.

Box 1: Case study

For one road rehabilitation project already underway, the EBRD received several complaints from NGOs and local communities claiming that particular sections of the road were unsatisfactorily constructed. The criticism was that it seriously affected the life of the villages located along the rehabilitated road, increasing the amount of accidents and casualties.

These public complaints prompted the EBRD to commission a road safety inspection to identify the problems, develop prioritized road safety actions for improving safety on the road, and ensure that similar problems for other road projects do not arise.

The main finding of the Road Safety Inspection was that the highway was inappropriately designed, and that the road layout and design speed through villages was unsafe and incompatible with the EU’s road standards. The road inspection also identified particular features of the new road layout that were most likely the cause of collisions and serious or fatal injuries, and revealed serious risks to drivers and pedestrians. Problems included:

  • The road separated villages, so was intensively used by residents and farmers to move and cross that require additional security measures. At the same time, two-level pedestrian crossings and underpasses were not installed;
  • Very unsafe, high-speed traffic (> 90km/h) in settlements with a lack of speed limits, so that the existing pedestrian crossings could not provide a safe crossing of the road;
  • Lack of or insufficient lighting for the road and especially for pedestrian crossings;
  • Pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles (horse-drawn carts, bicycles, etc.) were not separated from high speed traffic. The use of U-turns did not provide safe crossing;
  • Unsafe behavior of pedestrians, horse-drawn carts, cyclists and other users on the road while travelling and crossing.

Significant gaps in the local legislation and a lack of institutional capacity and regulation were identified. It appeared that the problem had a systematic nature because of insufficient legal regulation and outdated construction norms.

In order to address these identified issues, the EBRD together with other IFIs organized a meeting with the state authorities and other stakeholders such as the design institute and road police, during which road safety consultants presented their findings and recommendations. It was agreed that responsible authorities would review all recommendations and try to implement them and update the regulatory norms. Further support for capacity building, gap analysis of legal norms, and trainings would be provided by the IFIs. The EBRD would closely monitor implementation of the recommendations and update of the legal norms to ensure that deficiencies are corrected for all ongoing and future projects.

Also, in order to provide an immediate help to the most vulnerable road users, the EBRD started an awareness campaign to address the needs of the most vulnerable villagers living along the highway. They worked to raise road safety awareness and reduce speeds among drivers using these routes, complement the work of engineers implementing road design improvements, work with the police to improve the enforcement of road rules, and raise road safety issues at a national level targeting the government, opinion formers, and the media.             


4.1.1 EBRD Process

Terms of reference. Terms of reference should refer to the need to make the road as safe as economically possible for all road users. Unfortunately, in the desire to provide high-speed, high-capacity roads for long-distance travel, the needs of other types of traffic and needs of the local communities through which the roads pass are usually not given adequate consideration.

Design. Most state road schemes are designed by the State Institute for Road Design. Many aspects of road design are covered by official standards (Construction Norms, Technical Rules, etc.) which are legally binding. However, there is no comprehensive and coherent guidance on the planning and design of state roads. For major schemes, a feasibility study will be carried out initially, followed by a preliminary design and then a final design. The State Institute for Road Design consults the Department of Traffic Police at each stage, and expects them to raise any issues regarding road safety. People affected by the scheme are also consulted through public hearings as per a legal requirement.

Approval process. Once the final design is received from the Institute, the Chief Engineer of the State Road Service prepares a report for the Technical Council. In addition to presenting details of what is proposed, he explains the history of the design and the results of the public consultation. After the design is passed by the Technical Council it is submitted formally to the Department of Traffic Police for their approval, as legally required. Police officers at both district level and state level assess the scheme and provide their views. The police sometimes object to aspects of the scheme, and only once these objections are addressed to their satisfaction will they stamp approve the drawings allowing the scheme to proceed. Schemes that are financed by external donors will additionally have to pass their external approval processes. In some cases these can be quite demanding and require further technical work to be undertaken.

European Union Requirements

Directive 2008/96/EC on Road Infrastructure Safety Management requires member states to actively manage the safety of the trans-European road network (TERN). Specifically they have to:

  • Continually monitor road safety by means of crash reports and road safety inspections, and undertake a detailed analysis at least every three years that looks for above-average concentrations of crashes (often called blackspots);
  • Implement blackspot schemes designed to remove or mitigate the safety problems that are causing the crashes, giving priority to schemes with a high crash reduction potential and/or a high benefit-cost ratio;
  • Undertake a road safety impact assessment at the initial planning stage of all new infrastructure projects – this is to be a strategic, comparative analysis of the options;
  • Undertake safety audits – an independent, detailed, systematic and technical safety check – on the design of all works on the trans-European road network.

The Directive states that auditors must be experienced, hold a certificate of competence, and must not have been involved in the design of the project. One important feature of safety audit good practice that is not mentioned in the Directive is that, when auditors provide their recommendations, they are primarily concerned with road safety rather than on costs, cost-effectiveness, or the implications on traffic capacity. Directive 2008/96/EC contains many detailed instructions on how the key requirements should be implemented. These include:

  • Ensure that road safety audits are an integral part of the design process, and are incorporated; into each stage: draft design, detailed design, pre-opening, and early operation;
  • Ensure that a formal report is prepared for each audit;
  • Ensure that where the road authority decides not to act on a finding or recommendation in the audit report it gives its reasons in the final version of the report;
  • Manage crash data effectively – a report must be prepared on every crash involving fatal injuries - the information that has to be collected is specified in Annex IV of the Directive;
  • Calculate the average social costs of a fatal crash and a serious crash, and update the costs at least every five years;
  • Prepare guidelines on road safety management and publish them on the road agencys website;
  • Adopt guidelines on safety at roadworks and carry out inspections to check whether they are being followed;
  • Ensure that road users are notified of blackspots, possibly by road signs.
  • Provide an indication of how responsible authorities/agencies can be encouraged to adopt such policies and either through positive incentives or negative contractual penalties.


There are various reasons why road safety requirements cannot be properly and timely addressed. It can be caused by poor national road safety regulation and standards, insufficient enforcement, poor project management, and lack of understanding of the factors that contribute to poor road safety. The approach to addressing road safety should therefore involve legislative improvements, government policies and action plans, the setting of road safety standards and corporate standards, improvements in regulation and enforcement (e.g., financial penalty and point reductions, etc.), capacity building of the road authorities (including data collection and verifying ability, safety performance linked payments, etc.) and awareness campaigns.

The key motivator for governments and main state authorities would be to realize that unsafe roads are a significant economic burden and social issue, which affects growth of public welfare. In the case of the developed countries, its the government that takes the leading initiative and responsibility to correct for these shortcomings and make fundamental contributions to road safety improvements. This includes the development of road safety policy and laws, road safety regulations, inspections and enforcement.

If not properly addressed, the problem can only get worse due to continuous growth of traffic and transportation volumes. Positive upsides of economic growth such us increased car ownership, mobility, and transportation, should not be undermined by the impacts of unsafe roads. Road safety should be addressed in a proactive rather than a retroactive way so as to prevent the increase of road incidents. However, it requires very a robust management system and governmental policy and support, which is quite often is missing in low and middle income countries.

In the transition region of EBRD, the number of fatalities is estimated to be over 50,000 and injuries are estimated at 500,000. Road crashes are now the single greatest cause of death for the young population. Road safety performance is between two and five times worse in the transition region compared to best performing Western European countries, which reveals the particular need for action in the region. Large infrastructure projects are usually implemented with financial support from the development banks, which therefore have direct involvement and very high leverage for addressing road safety components and including them in the projects. Road safety also is a reputational interest and concern for the banks, for if projects are not properly done, they can increase the number of incidents and casualties, followed by increased public health and social problems. In May 2014, the EBRD approved new environmental and social policy making it mandatory to implement road safety audits and inspections during the implementation and completion of bank financed road projects.

Box 2: EBRD Environmental and Social Policy

EBRD Performance Requirement

Health and Safety

Traffic and road safety

29. The client will identify, evaluate and monitor the potential traffic and road safety risks to workers and potentially affected communities throughout the project life cycle and, where appropriate, will develop measures and plans to address them. For projects that operate moving equipment on public roads and other forms of infrastructure, the client will seek to prevent the occurrence of incidents and injuries to members of the public associated with the operation of such equipment.

30. The client will take into consideration relevant EU road and traffic safety management standards, identify road safety measures and incorporate technically and economically feasible and cost-effective road safety components into the project design to mitigate potential road safety impacts on the local affected communities. Where appropriate, the client will undertake a road safety audit for each phase of the project and routinely monitor incident and accident reports to identify and resolve problems or negative safety trends. For clients with vehicles or fleets of vehicles (owned or leased), the client will provide appropriate training to workers regarding driver and vehicle safety. The client will ensure regular maintenance of all project vehicles.


New EBRD transport strategy approved in October 2013 also establishes high road safety requirements to the projects.

Box 3: Road Safety Focus

In November 2009, in order to help meet the targets established in the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety, the EBRD, alongside the other major IFIs, issued a joint statement supporting a wide range of measures with the aim of reducing worldwide road fatalities and injuries. The joint statement recognises that to address road safety, a coordinated approach is required across a broad range of issues including institutional capacity, physical infrastructure improvements, land use planning, driver behaviour and vehicle condition. The Bank is now actively working with the IFIs under the Multilateral Development Bank Road Safety Initiative to coordinate global IFI road safety efforts and scale up road safety investments. The EBRD is leading the private sector outreach work under this initiative, which aims to engage private sector partners into the road safety improvement agenda.

At the project level, the bank will address road safety by ensuring that it has been given the appropriate level of consideration in the planning and design stages. This already forms part of the EBRD’s appraisal of road projects, and increased emphasis will be placed on the identification of safety design improvements in line with the EU Directive on Road Infrastructure Safety Management (2008/96/EC). The bank’s approach extends to road safety considerations during the construction and operational phase of projects, including road maintenance practices.

The EBRD will seek opportunities to finance road safety infrastructure improvements, whether as part of a wider road project or on a standalone basis. The bank will also support its multilateral partners where possible in the implementation of wider road safety measures, including institutional capacity building, driver behaviour campaigns, and improving traffic law enforcement.

And sets up Strategic Performance Indicators:

Box 4: Road Safety Focus

Ensure that within five years all public sector road projects are subject to a road safety assessment that identifies the risks to be reduced and at least 50 percent of such projects to include specific road safety components or initiatives to enhance the impact of the EBRD’s project on improving road safety in its COOs.

As noted above, in Eastern Europe and the former CIS, on average, 16.3-19 per 100,000 people die each year in road accidents. This compares with 11-12 per 100,000 in Western Europe (WHO). These figures understate the issue considering the relatively low levels of car ownership in the region. The WHO estimates the direct and indirect costs of road accidents to account for between 1-3% of GDP of European countries (WHO, European Status Report on Road Safety, 2008). Road safety is one of the single biggest issues of sustainable transport facing the region. However, this cannot be addressed by one institution alone, which is why the EBRD has joined forces with other MDBs in a decade of action to tackle this issue, as explained in Section 3 above. As part of its response, the Bank is now piloting road safety activities across a number of countries, and is actively looking for opportunities to develop road safety components in its road investments, where possible harnessing private sector resources. The objective is to build up the Bank’s road safety activities over the next five years, with the target of achieving at least half of the bank’s public sector road investments having road safety components by the fifth year, such as specific investment components in line with the conclusions of the Road Safety Audit, outreach activities with, private sector engagement, or Technical Cooperation projects on institutional strengthening and capacity building.


Other recommendations how to enhance opportunities of the EBRD in tackling road issues include the following:

The Environment and Social Summary (ESS) for all road projects must highlight the risk that the works will have a negative impact on road safety, both during construction and after completion. Ensuring that road safety is covered in the ESS makes it more likely that it will be included within the subsequent due diligence work, and any policy dialogue with the client. The Environment and Social Due Diligence Plan (ESDDP) for all road projects must require that a safety audit be done on the detailed design. This audit must be compliant with EC Directive 2008/96/EC, and subject to that the client (road authority) has responded appropriately to the audit recommendations. This final step is vital, as without it, the safety audit is likely to be a tick-box requirement of no practical value.

This is based on the assumption that the final design is ready, though in some cases the design of the scheme will be part of the project. If this is the case the bank must receive a commitment from the client that a) the design brief will reflect the importance of designing a safe road, and b) the safety audits will be done at all appropriate stages (e.g., feasibility, preliminary design, detailed design and pre-opening) and that the bank reserves the right to halt the project if it finds that the client has not responded substantively to the audit recommendations. Agreements on such matters will need to be reflected in the eventual loan agreement.

The ESDDP for all road projects must require that the client government and its executing agencies (road authority) commit themselves to taking practical steps to improve road safety, not only on the road itself post-completion, but also in the country as a whole. This includes road maintenance issues (e.g., who pays for the road lighting?), traffic law enforcement programs, the preparation and adoption of a road safety strategy, strengthening institutional capacity to manage road safety, ensuring sustainable funding for road safety, etc. Agreements on such matters will need to be reflected in the eventual loan agreement.

The ESDDP for all road projects must require that roadside communities, as well as other stakeholders, are fully informed of the projects implications for the ease and safety of local movements, by vehicles and on foot. The Environment and Social Action Plan (ESAP) must require that road safety awareness campaigns are undertaken amongst roadside communities (and drivers) especially where there will be major changes in the traffic environment. The ESAP can also usefully require that the contractor and supervision consultant maintains a high standard of traffic management during construction works.

The Environment and Social Monitoring Plan (ESMP) must make provision for checking a) that road safety audits are being done satisfactorily (if scheme design is part of the project), b) that traffic safety needs are being met at road works sites (key performance indicator: number of killed and seriously injured (KSI) in traffic crashes at roadworks), and c) that the safety of the completed road is acceptable. An appropriate performance indicator for safety would be a comparison of crash frequencies before and after construction. Typically this would involve obtaining annual crash totals (all casualty, KSI, pedestrians, child pedestrian, etc.) per 100 million vehicle kilometers travelled. Annual crash totals are usually averaged over three years, and crashes during the construction period are not counted. The "after" crash frequency can be compared with that of similar roads, both in the country and other European countries.

It is also recommended that a safety inspection, together with an analysis of the crash data, be done one year and three years after opening the road. Apart from identifying safety problems that need to be treated, these reviews can provide useful feedback to the highway designers. Furthermore, provide an indication of how responsible authorities/agencies can be encouraged to adopt such policies and either through positive incentives or negative contractual penalties.

4.2 European Investment Bank

Through strict requirements as well as technical and financial support, the EIB is seeking to influence road authorities to adopt higher standards for road safety in planning, design, and operation of roads financed by the EIB. It is the also the hope that better standards on EIB financed road sections eventually can have spill-over effects on all roads managed by the bank’s clients. Grant funding also typically includes components for capacity building within key national authorities to foster better road safety management.

The EIB Transport Lending Policy allows for investments in road safety improvements and seeks to transfer the lessons learnt and best practices in the EU to neighboring countries. This is first of all done through adherence to Directive 2008/96/EC on Road Infrastructure Safety Management and Directive 2004/54/EC on minimum safety requirements for tunnels on all road projects within the European TEN-T. Road safety audits have therefore been included in the majority of road projects approved by the EIB’s Board since 2010, and safer infrastructure has subsequently been integrated into projects through safety conscious design. The EIB also promotes the procedures as good practice on projects on other roads within the EU. Furthermore, the EIB requires that safety audits are carried out on all road projects outside the EU, and finances studies to identify gaps and proposes high priority road safety actions and components where needed.

4.2.1 The EIB Action Plan for Road Safety

The EIB continues to promote and to mainstream road safety through lending and advisory services to further develop the approaches used in line with best international standards. Key bottlenecks are the lack of capacity of potential borrowers to design and implement road safety enhancing project elements, lack of road safety analysis and management capacity, and lack of awareness and understanding of the issue and potential economic benefits. The EIB’s Action Plan for Road Safety includes a series of activities to change this, including making the bank more effective in promoting the uptake of road safety audits and measures, expanded technical assistance, capacity-building and awareness-raising, and further participation in coordinated global efforts. It includes a series of actions that are further elaborated in this document.

Awareness events

The EIB is creating awareness though dialogue and presentation of safety audit requirements and recommendations for clients and promoters. The communication of the findings for a specific project is used to convey knowledge and awareness to the involved authorities through real cases. It is EIB’s experience that such road safety workshops positively achieve their purpose, creating better understanding and exchange of experience. Secondly, EIB participates in key committees, working groups and conferences to inform and promote the bank’s road safety requirements to projects as well as opportunities for funding with road safety contents. The EIB is also facilitating road safety awareness campaigns through grant funding on road projects outside the EU.

Road Safety Studies

The EIB has conducted a recent major road safety study in Tunisia, which is now a benchmark for the situation in the country, helping the different organizations of the country to set direction for action. The study was done with EC/FEMIP support funds in the period 2012-2014 and managed by the EIB.

Manuals and guidelines

The EIB has prepared internal guidelines that integrate road safety into EIB road operations inside and outside the European Union by implementing the principles set out in the Directive 2008/96/EC on Road Infrastructure Safety Management. This is in line with the revised EIB Transport Lending Policy from 2011. The guideline covers five procedures:

  1. Road Safety Impact Assessment (RSIA)
  2. Road Safety Audit (RSA)
  3. Road Safety Inspection (RSI)
  4. Accident data management
  5. Network ranking and management

While the Directive is addressing roads within the European TEN-T, the EIB also strives to implement the principles on road projects outside the TEN-T and outside the EU. Road projects outside the EU are particularly important since the road accident situation is often more severe there, and the potential impact on fatalities, injuries and material damage is accordingly higher.

Road safety audits

More than 75 out of the 90 major road projects financed by the EIB between 2011-2015 were subject to road safety audits, and the share of EIB financed projects undergoing audits is increasing. The resulting increases in project costs for design and implementation, due to safety audit recommendations, are in the range of 0.5-7%. Such cost increases, however, are an investment that prevents accidents and benefits the national economy. It is fully eligible for EIB financing. Furthermore, the extra investments reduce the need for costly mitigation measures after completion, had the deficiencies not been rectified while the projects were still on the drawing board.

Examples of recent road safety audits:

East-West motorway in Georgia: Four separate project lots have been subject to independent Road Safety Audits. The design and recommendations have been discussed and included in the tender documents.

ECOSO Motorway and Tunis Bypass: In Tunisia, the ECOSO Motorway covering approximately 116 km and major 7 interchanges, and the Tunis Bypass, covering approximately 87 km and 11 interchanges, have been subject to Road Safety Audits and Inspections, following the principles outlined in Directive 2008/96/EC Road Infrastructure Safety Management. The recommendations have been taken on-board by the road authorities and design team and are integrated in the design.

Road safety components in rehabilitation projects

The EIB has made an evaluation of road safety related investments financed by the bank since 2011. The study concluded that embedded road safety measures, namely signs, markings, crash barriers, to some extend street lights, make up for more than €2.5 billion out of a total of €65 billion invested in roads since 2011 (3.34% of the total project cost). €850 million  of this amount were directly loan financed by EIB, levering the remaining investments through national and other sources. Some of these elements would have been implemented under all circumstances, in one form or another, but the application of road safety audits are helping to ensure that they are implemented with good safety standards from the outset, optimizing their impact on safety. Examples of projects with major road safety components include the following:

Raising road safety standards in Uganda: To help curb the growing road safety problem in this East African country, the EIB has supported the integration of road safety measures into road construction and improvement as part of the Eastern Africa Transport Corridor project to upgrade parts of the route from the port of Mombasa in Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The safety measures include segregated footways, speed humps, rumble strips, crash barriers, service lanes, pedestrian fencing, and lighting. Road safety audits were carried out to identify and rectify elements that could have negative safety impacts. Furthermore, the EIB promoted the inclusion of road safety education campaigns along the new and upgraded routes to address road user behavior.

Special road safety projects

The EIB considers road projects where road safety is the main objective as eligible for bank financing. The projects need to have a justification of the problem, needs, and objective and typically include road safety audits or inspections. Examples of such projects include the following:

Flexible financing for road safety in Spain

Financing road safety often involves dealing with many small, low-cost improvements that add up to a safer road system. The “Plan Mejora Red Carreteras de Murcia” project allocates a specific envelope of funds for implementing components of the Murcia region’s biannual Road Safety Action Plans as part of a larger EIB-financed road project. This also allows for a flexible financing response to road safety schemes identified after signature of the EIB loan through the on-going monitoring of accident hotspots. Measures financed include improvements to junctions, road alignments, barriers signs and lighting.

Road safety action plan for Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan: EIB is about to support a major road safety action plan for Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan focusing on the training of road safety  auditors and public transport operators etc. The technical assistance is funded by MENA Transition Fund (Deauville) under the Transtrac programme, managed by the EIB.

Improved road safety capacity and design standards in Ukraine: Ukraine is suffering from a road network which was not designed or managed to facilitate the safe movement of people and goods.  To raise the safety standards on the core highway network, which is undergoing rehabilitation with support from EIB and other MDBs, the EIB has achieved funding from the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance (EPTA) Trust Fund. The assistance will be aimed at modernizing the Ukrainian design standards to reflect a Safe Systems approach, and developing Ukrainian capacity to undertake road safety analysis and impact assessments, to conduct road safety audits, and to raise awareness. The assistance is focused on safer roads where EIB can have the most impact for Ukrainian stakeholders.

4.2.2 Main EIB challenges towards 2020

The EIB has made an evaluation of road safety related investments financed by the bank since 2011. The study concluded that embedde The EIB’s Road Safety Action Plan is flexible, building on past achievements and accommodating new challenges. Towards the end of the Decade of Action, the following topics will be in focus in the EIB’s Action Plan for Road Safety:

Development of road safety capacity: In spite of the EU member states’ formal transposition of the EU Directive on Road Safety, many new EU countries are lacking in practical capacity to conduct road safety analyses and audits. The capacity problem is even bigger for states outside of the EU. To address this, the EIB will liaise with regional stakeholders to strengthen the development of national and regional capacity, particularly focusing on road safety audit systems.

Better awareness: The lack of capacity is often rooted in a lack of awareness among road authorities and stakeholders. National road design standards – often far from the Safe System approach - may also be in conflict with the recommendations of safety audits, which make it difficult for road authorities to follow audit recommendations. To address this, the EIB will (i) give higher priority to road safety requirements in loan contracts, and (ii) provide aid to seek grants for technical assistance as needed to modernize design standards and build awareness.

Requirements to roads in urban areas: The EIB is financing major urban road projects within complex road environments and which address potential conflicts between vehicles and vulnerable road users. Nevertheless, road authorities are often reluctant to invest in even a single safety audit on such schemes because the EU Directive is mandatory for TEN-T only. To address this, the EIB will apply a phased approach in the coming years, focusing on the most important schemes first and eventually integrating road safety audits on all major road schemes outside the TEN-T by 2020.

Upgrade of roads in existing alignments: The EIB is often financing upgrading of roads in existing alignments. This is a major challenge since upgrading usually provides wider roads and higher vehicle speeds, which raises the barrier effect and increases the risks for vulnerable road users. To address this, the EIB will strive to (i) clarify the expected road standard and speed limit through urban environments with clients as early as possible, (ii) ensure proper implementation of safety audits, also during early operation, and (iii) monitor the development in accident data for 3 years after completion.

Lack of follow up on road safety recommendations: A safety audit or impact assessment is only useful if the recommendations are carefully reviewed and integrated in the project. There are two problems in this connection: The bank often enters the project too late in the planning process to impact on the design. Furthermore, where audits are conducted, there might not be adequate follow up on the audit recommendations due to lack of attention among design teams, contractors and road authorities. To address this, the EIB will (i) review the need for safety audits as early as possible in the process and (ii) require clients to respond formally to safety audit recommendations, with either confirmation that they will be followed or explanation where they cannot be followed (iii) request the road authorities  include a requirement for design and supervision consultants, and request contractors to include a person knowledgeable of and responsible for road safety.