Superior road safety via design

road safety via design

William Pollard, a Quaker writer and a recorded minister, once said, “Without change, there is no incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”

Innovation is the key to future advancements and growth. There are countless decisions which have the potential to enhance or erode the distinctive character of a location, with our experience of driving through it. Road safety, with a design perspective, provides more economic vitality and greater use of the available resources. Designing and enabling a functional piece of infrastructure, produce valuable and concrete results in the communities.

Connecting people, places and processes with a better vision serve as a litmus test for road safety. Tamil Nadu is striving to make the concern and solution of the road safety universally accessible. The state has realized that simple and affordable design improvements can create safer roads which support and link to wider imperatives, both locally and internationally.

An ongoing road sector project has incorporated the following design features in the project:

  • Treating highway sections passing through villages / semi-urban stretches with speed calming measures. These can contain signs and markings and active measures (rumble strips and speed humps), pedestrian facilities, drainage and paved parking.
  • Ramps for passengers with disabilities, clearly marked out and channelized bus bays along with pedestrian guardrails.
  • Combining metal beam crash barriers, signage and hazard markers on all curves.
  • Usage of illuminated raised pavement markers on center and edge lines, delineators, hazard markers etc. to facilitate safe driving at night.
  • Geometric Improvements and overall quality of the roads.

These changes have accounted for just 10% rise in the construction costs, which is a worthwhile investment in terms of safety and operational benefits.

According to the World Road Safety manual, limiting speeds through better design in selected areas of U.K, along with the traffic calming measures, have been very effective in reducing child pedestrian casualties. An early evaluation indicated 60% reduction in all injury crashes, and 67% reduction in child injury crashes. Besides, South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), follow American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards which ensure that guardrails are installed for vehicle restraints and pedestrian protection system.

Sustainable road construction with the use of plastics

Back in 2002, Rajagopalan vasudevan, came up with the idea of using plastic waste, to design roads. He experimented with 2mm pieces of plastic in size, over gravel and bitumen heated to 170oC. The plastic melted and coated the stones with a thin film. They were further added to the molten tar. This yielded twin benefits; this reused plastic well and built better roads.

The 73 year old chemistry professor, Vasudevan, patented his innovation in 2006 and bagged a Padmashri award for his novel contribution to the society.

A plastic road needs 1 ton of plastic and 9 tons of bitumen per kilometer. This has the potential to solve the disposal issues of plastics in the near future. The road life is nothing less than 10 years, and it comes with an added advantage; no potholes would be formed during the monsoons.

According to The Hindu, in November 2018, Maharashtra too has issued a notification to mandate the use of plastics in 18% of all the roadworks of the state. Over 100,000 km of roads are built with this concept in 11 states, including Tamil Nadu.

The Government is hence, seeking ways to ensure the strategic road network displays design quality through being safe, functional and effective. These will respond positively to the landscape character, cultural heritage and communities, and also conform to the principles of sustainable development.

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