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PROSPER

Project for Research on Speed Adaptation Policies on European Roads
Improving road traffic safety.

Funding: European (5th RTD Framework Programme)
Duration: 12/2002 - 03/2006
Transport themes: Intelligent transport systems , Transport management , Road transport , Security and Safety (key theme) , Awareness, information and user rights
  • Outline
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Background & policy context

Despite some improvements in recent years, the number of road accident victims in the European Union is still high with around 42,000 fatalities and 1.6 million injuries a year. Inappropriate speed has been identified as a major cause. Unless this pattern changes, roughly one in every eighty European citizens will be killed on the roads and one European in three will need hospital treatment after an accident, at least once in their life. If the cost of emergency services and medical care is included, the total cost of fatal accidents in the EU is put at € 45 billion a year or € 1 million for every person killed.

A major cause of road accidents is inappropriate speed, i.e. the driver has not adapted the vehicle speed to the prevailing circumstances or is unaware of hazards due to lack of information. A common name for measures that can be undertaken to overcome such problems is road speed management.

While traditional road speed management measures normally include installation of physical obstacles in the roadway to prevent speeding, alternative solutions based on information and the use of information technology are under development.

The EC has recognised the contribution that new technologies can make in achieving the goals of the Common Transport Policy through a reduction in road speed. The Council resolution of June 2000 explicitly identifies “…the use of advanced assisted driving technology…which has considerable potential for improving road safety” and “…technology relating to speed limitation devices and to identify any technical, organisational, administrative and legal difficulties in introducing them…” as important measures for further investigation.

Therefore the question arises: why is the implementation of new road speed management methods not well under way?

From a policy perspective there is a vast difference between implementation of traditional (physical) speed management methods and advanced methods based on information technology. While traditional speed management methods are subject to “local decisions regarding local solutions for local problems”, advanced methods require decisions at higher political and industrial levels: Speed management methods that require interaction between a vehicle and its surroundings involve a totally different set of policies and decision making processes.

The aim of the PROSPER project was to address these policy aspects of road speed management by identifying the key questions relating to the various players in the implementation process, and then responding to these questions through research and development activities.

Objectives

The main objective of the PROSPER project was to contribute to improved road traffic safety by providing answers to the following questions:

  • how efficient are the use of road speed management methods based on information technology (ISA) in comparison with traditional physical means?
  • how will road users across Europe react to such developments?
  • what are suitable strategies for implementation and what obstacles have to be overcome?

A further objective was to forward the information collected and knowledge generated to the key policy stakeholders with the purpose of removing barriers to the implementation of modern methods for road speed management.

Methodology

The overall project objective, as defined above, was achieved by focusing on the following research processes:

  • to co-ordinate data collection in national ISA demonstrations and supplement the information through additional field trials and experiments;
  • to assess user reactions (behaviour and acceptance) to different types of road speed management methods and implementation strategies across Europe;
  • to assess traffic safety effects from ISA through bench marking against other speed management methods and measuring other effects (network, traffic flow, noise, and pollution);
  • to assess cost effectiveness for safety and the overall cost benefit of road speed management methods;
  • to perform a technical review of mechanisms that may influence driver road speed behaviour and the prospect for implementation in relation to technical standards;
  • to outline and evaluate implementation strategies for different types of speed management methods, taking into account user acceptance and legal and policy aspects;
  • to disseminate project results to key stakeholders in the implementation process;
  • to support the establishment of policy initiatives for the introduction of modern speed management methods.

Research Programme

FP5 - GROWTH - KA2 - Sustainable Mobility and Intermodality

Leading institution(s)

Public institution:

European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)

Type of funding

Public (EU)

Key results

The PROSPER project was based on partners with a vast knowledge on the subject from the various national ISA field trials that preceded the project. To ensure a European perspective and fill in knowledge gaps, the PROSPER project used laboratory experiments (driving simulator) and field studies (in Hungary and Spain) in combination with interviews and surveys to collect additional information and generate new knowledge.

The results from earlier experiments and field trials are confirmed by PROSPER:

  • physical speed management measures are suitable for spot-based speed reduction, but are inefficient in generating network effects. They shall be seen as complementary to ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation), not an alternative;
  • ISA will contribute to better road safety without increasing travel time. The reduction of speed variance is an important contributor to safety, not only the speed reduction. The accident reduction is in the order of 20-40% depending on the deployment characteristics;
  • ISA will bring reduced noise and exhaust emissions, in particular in urban areas;
  • mandatory, intervening systems bring a more substantial effect than only informative (Speed Alert) systems. Field trials show however that the design of the driver interface is the key to the long term safety effect.
  • the benefit to cost ratio in ISA deployment is 3 or above. This is high enough to motivate public investments in deployment;
  • the European road users are generally positive to ISA, and the positive attitude is strengthened by live experience of the function;
  • the vehicle industry is positive to informative ISA (Speed Alert) but requires Europe-wide coverage of high quality speed limit information before large scale implementation can take place. Many OEM (original equipment manufacturers) and nomad device manufacturers have prepared or already initiated implementation in their products;
  • many countries and regions do not have information on speed limits available in a format suitable for ISA;
  • there is currently no functioning method for collection and distribution of speed limit information for cross-border applications. This is the key barrier to ISA deployment.

The overaching conclusion was that there is a broad consensus on the potential for improving road safety with ISA, but availability of and access to speed limit information halts the deployment.

Technical implications

None: the PROSPER project did not intend to develop vehicle equipment or other technical components of road speed management systems. The most important technical achievements concerned the development of models, tools and other methods for analysis.

Policy implications

PROSPER research and dissemination activities have generated a platform for further ISA deployment on the European level. This platform is expressed as a set of implementation scenarios that are expected to be effective ways of generating ISA deployment. The realisation of these scenarios is supported by a set of recommendations for actions by the different groups of stakeholders concerned:

  • nomad devices used for navigation and other traveller services are suitable for early deployment;
  • deployment of ISA through implementation of ISA functionality in new vehicles is a cornerstone in long term deployment;
  • authorities and other important stakeholders in road transport can play an important role in early deployment by requiring transport providers to commit themselves to ISA usage for particular transport services. Similarly, transport operators can profile themselves by offering ISA as an add-on to the service they provide;
  • european, national and regional authorities have to enable ISA by making sure that correct speed limit information is made available for the ISA service. We can also see the need for harmonisation and technical development activities in this area;
  • organisations and authorities have to continue to create awareness of the risks associated with inappropriate road speed, and the advantage of ISA. They shall also act as forerunners, by carrying out early implementations in controlled vehicle fleets and supporting demonstrations;
  • commercial actors, nomad device manufacturers as well as OEM, have to engage in harmonisation activities and in development activities concerning collection, management and distribution of speed limit data;
  • PROSPER partners will bring the results from PROSPER forward in national and international implementation activities to support rapid deployment of ISA.

Other relevant documents

ERRAC_Project_Evaluation_RAVEL_PROSPER_REPID (136 Kb)

Partners

Belgium:
Langzaam Verkeer; Flemish Institute for technological research

France:
CERTU - Centre d'études sur les réseaux de transport et l' urbanisme

Germany:
Technical University Kaiserlautern - Transportation Department

Hungary:
Endresz Ltd.

South Africa:
University of Cape Town - Civil Engineering

Spain:
INTRA - Ingeniería de Tráfico

The Netherlands:
Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat - AVV Transport Research Centre; TNO - Organisation for Applied Scientific Research

Sweden:
SRA - Vägverket - Swedish Road Administration; Lund University; SWECO VBB VIAK; Transek

United Kingdom:
Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) - University of Leeds; MIRA Ltd.

Contact for further information

Mr Per Wenner
Swedish Road Administration
Röda vägen
781 87  Borlänge
Sweden

Tel: (+46) 24 37 51 70
Fax: (+46) 24 37 59 39