Project Acronym: Smart RRS
Project Full Title: Innovative Concepts for smart road restraint systems to provide greater safety for vulnerable road users
Grant Agreement No.: 218741
Many injuries and deaths are a result of impacts with current road restraint systems especially in the case of vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and passengers where impacts with supports or edges usually result in amputations or sectioning of torsos in a guillotine effect.
Furthermore once an accident has occurred; the time between the impact and receiving immediate initial first aid can be crucial; delays in alerting emergency services or incorrect location information given to emergency can cause waste life saving moments for injured people or even result in emergency services going to the wrong location of the accident.
This project has developed a new smart road restraint system that will reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused in road traffic accidents by integrating primary and tertiary sensor systems in a new RRS system; providing greater protection to all road users, alerting motorists and emergency services of danger so as to prevent accidents happening, and alerting them of accidents as they happen to maximise response time to the exact location of the incident.
The state of the art that had to be considered for the developments in this projects was divided into three logical complementary areas covering the component parts of the smart rrs that had to be developed during the project.
1. State of the art with respect to road restraint systems (RRS).
The standard IPE-100 post (Figure 1) is considered to have the highest injury potential to vulnerable road users in case of an accident. The Sigma (ƒÃ) posts (Figure 2), Z-posts and C-posts (Figure 3) are less harmful to motorcyclists and are used in most European countries (Sigma-posts) and Australia (C-posts).
The installation of additional W-beams to the lower section of the guardrail system has proven to be an effective method of reducing the severity of injuries sustained by motorcyclists as they aid in distributing the energy of impact over a larger surface (Koch and Scheuler, 1987; Sala and Astori, 1998). They also serve to protect victims from directly impacting the guardrail posts.
Two models of crash barrier impact attenuator covering barrier posts exist. They are made of foam (polystyrene, polyurethane or similar material). They have been installed on several hundred of kilometres in both Austria and Germany. Some have also been used in Luxembourg.
They prevent contact with posts edges, and absorb part of the impact energy. Their positive effect is however reduced with higher speeds of impact. They are very easy to install, and the indicated durability is 4 years. In mountainous regions, they are often removed during winter to prevent damage by snowplough.
Since the early 80s, a device made of a metal plate fixed under the rail to prevent contact with the barrier posts has been designed and is used in France (sold by company SEC-Envel). Nearly 100 km of motorway have been equipped with such devices in the Paris region in 1997.
An integrated solution with a built in secondary rail, and minimal aggressive shapes, turned in edges, etc...
This device has been designed and is sold by the company Solosar.
The above plastic «Plastrail» is a device which was developed by French «Sodilor» company in the context of the French competition for innovative design of motorcycle friendly crash barriers. It aimed to combine the energy absorption property of the CBP with the impact spreading property of the metal sheet. It consists of soft plastic fence covering barrier posts. It is adaptable to existing crash barrier system.
Adopting a similar approach as the «Plastrail», but comprising 70% recycled material, Mototub is presumably also adaptable to a cable barrier. The company selling this product is Sodirel.
The first Dutch motorcycle-friendly crash barrier was installed in the province of Utrecht. The system was developed by the Dutch crash barrier company Prins Dokkum. This company developed a very simple system which is a metal board that could be used on existing crash barriers to protect the rider from hitting the posts.
Concrete Barriers - Slide-cast, concrete barriers are used far more frequently in Norway, both as traditional roadside barrier and as a barrier between opposite traffic lanes. The smooth concrete barrier is in itself 'motorcycle-friendly'. The objection against concrete barriers has been due to the high cost. However, with the slide-cast technology, price per meter is nearly halved compared to concrete block barriers of similar strength and quality. An advantage of the Safetybaer® concrete barrier used in Norway is that it is designed to contain heavy vehicles. The price per meter is approximately €80, depending on the fluctuating price of concrete.
In Germany the so called 'Euskirchener Model' is much more than a crash barrier project. It is the result of an integrated accident research and safety improvement project called 'Safety Outside Build-Up Areas', aimed at reducing fatally injuries of motorcyclists.
This includes the following measures:
- Fitting the existing crash barriers with a second, flat rail, called 'Unterfahrschutz Typ Euskirchen'. This product was first used in France and 'reimported' in to Germany and forwarded to type approval process;
- Mounting of 'Direction Panels' (Chevrons);
- Introduction of 'Double Line', separating the lanes;
- Creating a 'Forgiving Road Side';
- Solving problems about where to place roadside furniture, like reflector posts and direction panels. They must be in the field of vision of the rider as well as at a safe distance. Possible solutions are: flexible mountings and mounting outside the most likely crash area;
- Implementation of behavioral changes with motorcyclists.
The secondary rail is installed at a maximum of 5cm above the ground surface in order to prevent any body parts coming in contact with the posts. The secondary rail is not fitted to the posts, but is fitted with small girders to the upper (normal) rail. The cost of fitting the secondary rail to the existing crash barrier is approximately €18 per meter.
The project has been a success: since the implementation of the described measures on the L165, no motorcyclist has been fatally injured (2005).
In comparison with French and German motorways where the crash barriers are built directly adjacent to the road Belgian motorways appear to be safer in the event of a fall as an obstacle free area of several meters exists between the barrier and side of the road. This area provides means of deceleration for the motorcyclists before the final contact with the barrier posts.
A number of project consortium partners have been and are involved in other EU funded projects which can provide great amounts of valid information to this project. This will ensure maximum use and impact of EC spending and miminise duplication of resources re-investigating ground already covered in this ambit.
- RISER (2003 – 2006)
- PISA Project
- ROBUST ( 2003 – 2006)
- SAFEWAY (2001 – 2004)
2. State of the art for sensing in the road infrastructure.
There is already a considerable amount of sensing functionality in the road infrastructure in general. Examples include:
- Traffic counting and detection systems based on a variety of techniques – e.g. optical, inductive loop and acoustic methods, to provide usage and performance data or to identify incidents
- Traffic speed measuring systems based on Doppler radar (for speed limit enforcement cameras), and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (ANPR) (for traffic flow measurement over timed distances).
- CCTV/Video monitoring – feeding data back to traffic control centres, the more advanced of these might include some kind of incident recognition and alert systems.
However, such sensing systems often require their own infrastructure to be in place – either in the form of gantries, specially constructed poles or perhaps even buried in the road surface, all of which either introduce additional cost into the road network or are available only at certain points within the road network. In recent years there has been a focus on above ground detection systems and also on the use of probe vehicles, usually equipped with satellite and GSM to remotely measure journey times on the network.
Communications in the road Infrastructure
Traditionally roadside equipment has been linked to traffic control centres using fixed telephone lines or dedicated networks. Newer technologies, such as fibre-optic networks and wireless communications, have been widely deployed resulting in reduced operating costs and a step-change in bandwidth.
In Essex, a system has been successfully implemented that enables CCTV pictures to be transmitted back to the control centre over a broadband network established for schools. Emerging approaches like WiMax and Zigbee will open up further possibilities for linking intelligent infrastructure to emergency services and control centres.
There are many considerations in determining the most suitable approach for communications, not least the cost and availability of options. Reliability, coverage, bandwidth and the ability to link to legacy systems are also important.
Integration of systems is becoming increasingly important within traffic management to enable network managers to be better informed about the whole network. The ability to integrate additional roadside infrastructure into the same systems and interfaces will be beneficial.
The next major development around roadside infrastructure, notwithstanding the advent of wireless communications, will be the direct linkages between the infrastructure and vehicles. Short-range communications (DSRC) have been used for some applications eg tolling but have wider potential to directly support road safety applications.
3. State of the art for primary and tertiary safety systems for road restraint systems and intelligent road restraint systems.
At present there is no intelligence embedded into the current generation of road restraint systems. Because of their ubiquity on certain road types however, these represent a considerable opportunity for introducing additional safety sensing and communications functionality into the road environment.
The general objective of this project is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by road traffic accidents to vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and passengers through the development of a smart road restraint system.
This smart restraint system shall:
- Reduce the number of accidents through better information on the actual state of the road and traffic flow(climatic conditions, traffic flow, obstructions).
- Eliminate dangerous profiles from road restraint systems (crash barriers) that currently endanger vulnerable road users.
- Optimise road safety by providing exact information of where and when accidents happen in real-time.
This road restraint system shall have the following features:
- Integrated with the road restraint system.
- Cost effective in terms of materials costs, installation costs and running costs.
- Minimizes additional demands on the infrastructure such as power and communications buses.
- Will not provide additional risks to those colliding with the road restraint systems, particularly vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists.
- Robust against the environment.
- Robust against system degradation (e.g. the loss of a sensing node will still allow the system as a whole to function).
- Robust against false triggering (so that, for example, emergency services are not called unnecessarily).
- Each sensing node should know its location.
- Sensing nodes should be modular (additional functionality to be easily integrated depending on the location).
- Capable of being integrated with other roadside infrastructure and traffic management systems.
Dr. Juan J. Alba
Telephone: +34 976 761913
IDIADA Automotive Technology SA
CENTRO ZARAGOZA - Instituto de investigación sobre reparación de vehículos, S.A.
BASYC - Sistemas de protección para Seguridad Vial, S.L.
ARCELOR MITTAL OSTRAVA, AS
ESSEX County Council
FEMA - Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations
Università degli Studi di Firenze