On June 15, 2021, the RADAR project team implemented the final Road Safety Expert Group (RSEG) meeting on Thematic Area 6 – Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive (RISM) In Danube Area.
The last RSEG meeting was surrounded by road authorities, international organisation, high-level road safety experts, and other transport stakeholders that actively participated to offer opportunities for converging policies in a transnational strategy and reinforce the need for harmonisation at the EU level – especially within this thematic area. The thematic is highly relevant to the project scope. It is based on the new RISM Directive 2019/1936/EC that replaces Directive 2008/96/EC. Such activities have not been planned in RADAR as the act has been passed late last year.
The methodology used in RADAR is the most comprehensive methodology and 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 discussions on the ways that countries can and shall implement it.
Within the RSEG meeting's panel of high-level road safety professionals, the debate was vivid but unified when answering arisen questions.
George Yannis, National Technical University of Athens, emphasised: “We must see system broadly and we should talk about digital infrastructure instead of data. We must learn from motorway data and digital infrastructure management where safer features appear and transfer this to the primary road level. Traffic data for VRU are too scarce, there is a problem we must address. Banks can prioritize projects only if they have road safety inspections and if they are supported by date. With these national authorities will be motivated to collect data. Open data show an extra benefit in their accountability and motivation.” Derran Williams, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), agreed with Mr. Yannis and added: “Specific focus is on sustainable, green, and digital topics. Investments on roads are going to switch because they will focus on a green agenda. Meaningful engagement of stakeholders’ communities to understand their needs is a way to address VRUs.”
Steve Phillips, Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR), questioned: “Are we seeing the whole picture? We need to broaden our perspective. It is also not all about preparing for automated vehicles. Road authorities must take into consideration digital road infrastructure as there are too many inconsistencies. Future investments should focus on the digital infrastructure.” Petros Petrou, the Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, then emphasised: “Infrastructure is a key pillar of the Safe System approach, so philosophy is to make things better in the future (no retroactive action) for human drivers. As the budgets are limited, approaches must be harmonised.”
Malaya Zumel, European Investment Bank, focused on the question of what we can do for the Danube region countries. She presented EIB’s aim to support the improvement of one-star roads and shared good practices on one of their activities in Romania.
With the thematic area report on RISM and recommendations for its implementation, the RADAR Danube Infrastructure RS Improvement Strategy (DIRSIS) will become the most comprehensive strategy in Europe at this moment that will serve EU countries even outside the Danube area. It will support the improvement of road infrastructure safety in the region for multiple road users, on the Danube major, secondary and tertiary road network, as well.
More about the RSEG meeting here.