ERF calls for better safety in Europe´s Work Zones

31 March 2015 | Brussels, Belgium

The European Commission has just unveiled the road safety statistics for 2014, which point to an overall slow-down in the momentum for casualty reduction achieved over the last few years. While the annual reduction in deaths between 2010 and 2013 had averaged 5%, the figures for 2014 show a decrease of just 1% compared to 2013 figures.

While fatalities occurring in road work zones represent only a small percentage of overall figures, the truth is that working to maintain roads remains one of the most dangerous jobs in road construction. In this sense, apart from the moral responsibility to protect workers in road work zones, improving the safety of work zones could proportionally deliver significant results.

Given first, that Europe’s road infrastructure is ageing and second, that traffic volumes tend to increase over the medium-to-long-term, the frequency of road work interventions in the near future will increase, if Member States are to maintain this important asset in a trustworthy condition for users.

In this context, and taking also in consideration on-going initiatives at EU level for improving work zone safety in a coordinated manner, the ERF is pleased to announce the release of its latest Position Paper “Towards Safer Work Zones” which provides a series of guidelines on minimum safety performance for road equipment deployed in work zones on the TEN-T network (e.g. road restraint systems, signs, markings, lights, ITS).

‘These guidelines represent the collective efforts of our group over the last three years’, explains John Kreps, Chairman of the WG Work Zone Safety at the ERF. ‘In total, we collected the national work zone safety guidelines of 16 EU Member States and subsequently performed an in-depth analysis in order to assess how different road safety equipment can be best deployed in order to increase safety in a cost-effective manner’.

In addition to the overall recommendations, the position paper contains three practical examples from France, Spain and Belgium of how road infrastructure elements are deployed in three types of work zones (mobile, short and long term) and areas (approach, activity and termination).

‘We hope that this position paper will raise awareness of the importance of improving safety in work zones both at EU and Member State level’, explains Christophe Nicodème, ERF Director General. ‘At a time when the European Commission is currently revising Directive 2008/96 on Infrastructure Safety Management, we believe that our report can make a positive contribution and result in a more coordinated approach on this topic, while at the same, respect the principle of subsidiarity’.

Please click here to get a complete version of the Position Paper “Towards Safer Work Zones”.

About the authors:

The ERF dedicated Working Group on Work Zones Safety was created in 2011 with a triple objective:

  • Raise public and political awareness on the importance of improving safety in work zones
  • Reinforce cooperation with public authorities, stakeholders and standardisation bodies
  • Identify discrepancies, best practices and potential areas of improvement