International Seminar on Road Safety


Image source: Universidad de los Andes

The International Seminar on Road Safety Research, held on 19th and 20th November 2012 in Bogotá, Columbia, was organized by Universidad de los Andes with support from the Corporación Fondo de Prevención Vial, the Latin American Development Bank CAF, EMBARQ (the producer of this blog), Universidad del Norte, Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Colombian Ministry of Transport. The event was a discussion of diverse perspectives on some of the latest advances in road safety research. The importance of multi-disciplinary approaches, the relevance of good data collection and management, the role of advanced simulation and modeling, and the opportunities provided by sustainable transport, among other issues, was discussed by experts from France, Spain, USA, Canada, Peru, and Columbia. In addition, the participants talked of ways to create and expand a possible road safety research network for Columbia with connections to international research centers.

José Rafael Toro Gómez, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Universidad de los Andes, opened the seminar, followed by Nicolás Estupiñán, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Columbia, who welcomed the initiative, and provided an insight into the work of the Ministry of Transportation, such as the creation of a road safety observatory to improve the quality and availability of road safety information in Columbia. In 2011, Columbia registered over 5,500 traffic fatalities. In response, the Ministry is committed to reduce this number by half by 2020 as part of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, and has announced the presentation of a legislative initiative to Congress to advance the insitutions in charge of road safety.

EMBARQ (the producer of this blog) participated in this seminar by bringing the idea that ‘sustainable transport saves lives’. Dario Hidalgo, Director – Research and Practice, EMBARQ, brought an additional dimension to the traditional approach to improve road safety –focused on risks.

He presented worldwide evidence on the importance of reducing exposure – vehicle-kilometers travelled (VKT) – and indicated that the most efficient way is through the introduction of avoid and shift measures. Avoid measures include land use changes to reduce trip distances and the need for motor vehicles. Shift measures include promotion of public and non-motorized mobility and car travel demand management measures.  Combined avoid and shift measures reduce VKT and thus the exposure to road safety risks, while also improving efficiency, reducing harmful emissions and increasing personal physical activity.

Dr. Hidalgo also stressed that the sustainable transport facilities need to be designed with safety in mind.  He presented a product of the research activities by EMBARQ, Traffic Safety on Bus Corridors guidelines, which include several recommendations resulting from modeling crash frequencies, expert inspections, and audits.  Some of the main messages were the introduction of traffic calming devices to reduce speed, like narrower lanes; as well as simple intersections and short pedestrian crossing distances, using islands.  For bus corridors, recommendations include closed stations, physical separation of bus lanes from the general traffic, and avoiding the use of contraflow lanes.

He indicates that sustainable transport should be included in road safety strategies, complementing traditional approaches focused on the safe roads, safe vehicles and safe drivers, and that sustainable transport facilities should be designed for safety.


Other presentations at the seminar included:

‘Co-responsibility in Road Safety’ by Alexandra Rojas, Director of Coroporación Fondo de Prevención Vial, stressing the importance of addressing road safety and the concept of co-responsibility of all road users and authorities in dealing with road safety issues.

‘Better Understanding of the Causes and Risks in Influencing Public Policy’ by Juan Pablo Bocarejo, Director of the Research Group on Urban and Regional Sustainability, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, sharing results of work from previous years.

‘Data and Knowledge Help in Prediction of Road Incidents, and Selecting Cost-effective Counter-measures’ by Andrew Tarko, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, speaking of the relevance, severity and frequency being the key aspects in collecting, keeping, and managing road safety data.

‘Incentives to Incorporate Road Safety in the Operation of Highway Concessions’ by Pablo Pérez de Villar Cruz is the Director of the Road Safety Service, Ministry of Development, Spain; and Researcher, Madrid Polytechnic University, sharing the results of a research project to improve concession contracts so that they include adequate incentives to road safety management, showing the weaknesses of most contracts in this aspect.

‘Road Safety Research Goes Way Beyond the Road and the Vehicle’ by Joel Gregorie Yerpez, Director of Research, IFSTTAR, the new transport, development and networks research center in France, highlighting the importance of all aspects in road safety research, including vehicle dynamics, ergonomics, psychology, environment, road design, and applied bio-mechanics, amongst others.

‘Human Factor Behind 90% of the Causes Associated with Road Incidents’ by Francisco Alonso Pla, Director, DATS; and Secretary, Traffic and Road Safety Research Institute (INTRAS) of the University of Valencia, Spain, explaining his research oriented to causality, recognizing that traffic incidents are the result of a complex interaction of multiple factors, stating that road accidents are not accidents; they are the result of foreseeable errors.

‘Quality of Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives’ by Claudia Puentes, Directora de Comunicación, Pedagogía y Relaciones Institucionales de la Corporación Fondo de Prevención Vial, suggesting the adoption of a quality assurance process, including the designation of an independent technical institute for pre-market testing and enforcement mechanisms.

‘Pedestrian Footbridges are a Priority for Cars, Not Necessarily a Road Safety Improvement’ by Victor Cantillo, Professor, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla; and Coordinator, Transport Research Group Tranvía, presenting a behavioral study on attitudes towards pedestrian road crossings using choice modeling in which the tradeoff between jaywalking and safety was tested.

‘Public Spaces for Pedestrians and Bicyclists are Fundamental to Road Safety’ by Juan Carlos Dextre, Professor, Catholic University, Lima, Peru, presenting a holistic approach to road safety issues that involves three dimensions for road safety: exposure, risk, and impact, concluding that it is very important to include adequate public spaces, so that pedestrian and cyclists are safe.

‘Models and Tools for Road Safety Need to be Calibrated to Local Conditions’ by Bhagwant Persaud, Faculty Members, Ryerson University, Canada, speaking from his extensive experience in research and applications in road safety, discussed base conditions, crash modification factors and calibration factors are different from place to place, and need to be adapted for different contexts.

‘Low Cost Measures Improve Urban Road Safety Through a Systematic Approach’ by Nestor Saenz, Faculty Member, National University of Colombia, presenting the results of a research project to reduce the risk and severity of crashes in urban areas, with a focus on protecting pedestrians at intersections, using a systematic approach for assessment of current conditions, selection of alternatives, implementation, and evaluation.

‘Success in Road Safety in Spain – A Combination of Legislation, Improved Data, Analysis, Modeling, Design, Education, and Control’ by Francisco Aparicio Izquierdo, Director, Instituto Universitario de Investigación del Automóvil INSIA, of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid UPM, speaking of the successes in Spain where fatalities have reduced from 10,000 in 1989, to 2,000 in 2012, as a result of a continuous improvements in legislations with activities like the vehicle license by points, the requirement for safer vehicles and good maintenance practices, and improvements in infrastructure, driver education, alcohol control, and enforcement.

All presentations are made available online by the Universidad de los Andes.


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