We already informed our community that the RADAR project extension request has been approved so the project is extended until November 2021 on the last and final Steering Committee meeting. Due to the delay with the activities in project work packages caused by severe travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the delivery of some outputs will now be postponed. Above all, the project is now also richer for two additional activities that will respond to road safety challenges in the post-pandemic era as well as to tackle the need to implement the amended Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive 2019/1936/EC (RISM) in the Danube area.
The objective of this extension is to complement work already done and include in the Danube Infrastructure Road Safety Improvement Strategy (DIRSIS) and Danube Infrastructure Road Safety Improvement Action Plans (DIRSIAP) two road safety issues that emerged well after the start of the RADAR project. The inclusion of analysis, recommendations, and action plans related to post-COVID-19 pandemic and investments in Road Safety as well as the guidelines on how to implement the amended Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive 2019/1936/EC (RISM) in the Danube area are very important for the future of road infrastructure safety in Danube area as well as in Europe. With new activities, two new Road Safety Expert Groups (RSEG) are established on Thematic Area 5: Transport Safety and Covid 19 and Thematic Area 6: Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive 2019/1936/EC (RISM) in the Danube area.
The COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on mobility patterns and transport worldwide and therefore on road safety while the requests of the amended RISM Directive require the use of different proactive approaches to road infrastructure safety management. The work on RADAR so far was focused on four TAs (Safer Roads Investment Plans, Provisions for Vulnerable Road Users, Smart Speed Management Infrastructure, and Road Safety near Schools) which were the most relevant building blocks of future strategic management of infrastructure road safety in the Danube Area. Experts gathered around RSEG have provided valuable inputs to project partners and associated strategic partners in drafting the layout of DIRSIS and DIRSIAP that were supposed to be presented and uptaken by the national stakeholders. As these recommendations set out in the DIRSIS and DISRSIPA must be up to date, the RADAR team will be taking into account the new situation which is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and amended RISM Directive requirements.
The methodology used in RADAR is the most comprehensive methodology that covers most of the new directive requirements and further capacity building on this would be highly relevant and welcomed by stakeholders. Since the directive has been brought, there have been vivid discussion on the ways that countries can and shall implement the directive. With the Thematic Area report on RISM and recommendations for its implementation including the Strategy, the RADAR Danube Infrastructure RS Improvement Strategy will become the most comprehensive Strategy in Europe at this moment that will serve to EU countries even outside the Danube area and support improvement of road infrastructure safety in the region for multiple road users, on the Danube major, secondary and tertiary road network.
Improving road infrastructure safety in the Danube area was set as an overall and outstanding objective of the RADAR project. However, this critical time requires action to demonstrate by facts the real impact of the pandemic on road safety in the region and lessons to be learnt from it. There is also a reasonable threat that investments in road infrastructure safety will be largely affected by the outbreak and will shrink already small budgets dedicated to road infrastructure safety. With that in mind, RADAR will above all raise awareness on the risk of neglecting or minimising future spending on infrastructure safety as well as demonstrate impact on speed on-road accidents with fatal and serious injuries. Within the Road Safety, Expert Group RADAR team will advocate for stakeholders from participating countries to keep road safety high in the political agenda. Immediate actions on awareness-raising and exchange of experience will influence the likelihood of less severe consequences of COVID-19 on road safety in the Danube area in the long run.