The Road Network
Keeping WA safe on and off the road is a big job. After all, our road network is made up of 129,159km of local roads, 13,399km of State roads and 5,115km of National Land Transport Routes.
‘Safe Roads’ contribute to the Safe System. This is more than just the roads but everything around them too - signage, signals & infrastructure, even the weather of the area.
THE ROADS WE TRAVEL ON AND THE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SURROUNDS THEM HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY ENGINEERED TO KEEP YOU SAFE.
SAFE ROAD DESIGN AIMS TO PREVENT CRASHES FROM OCCURRING AND TO REDUCE THE SEVERITY OF IMPACT IF A CRASH OCCURS.
If we can prevent crashes from happening, we can prevent death and serious injury. Pretty obvious, right?
Well maintained road signage, lighting and signals play a key role in helping us achieve this objective.
Other safety measures include:
- Reducing the risk of lane departure crashes through sealing shoulders, installing audible edge lines, removing roadside hazards and installing safety barriers
- Road treatments (such as speed bumps and audible edge lines) that:
- ease traffic speeds
- alert users to road conditions
- alert users if they deviate from their lane
- Higher capacity roads are planned to physically separate vehicles from walkers and riders, providing a safer option
- Highways designed with rest stops to help road users stay alert and focused
If a crash can’t be prevented, the aim is to reduce harm to any road users involved – and the environment plays a big role.
If you come off the road, you’re safest if you can come to a slow, controlled stop.
If you collide with a heavy object - like a tree - you endure more force from the speed of impact.
If you lose traction, say skidding on a sandy patch, you lose control and take longer to stop.
Safe roads & roadsides aim to avoid these situations by adding adequate clear space along roads, flexible road barriers, or by sealing road shoulders.
Road planners also consider alternative intersection types – such as roundabouts – which reduce dangerous right-angle impacts.
Examples of road designs
Roundabouts are one clever piece of engineering!
Often installed to improve safety at dangerous intersections, they work by reducing collision angles and deferring energy.
For example, if two vehicles collide at an intersection, they are most likely to have a dangerous right-angle or T-bone crash. If the same two vehicles collide on a roundabout, they’re more likely to sideswipe one another, dispersing the energy of the crash, reducing the force of impact and the severity of the crash.
The safest roundabouts have designated lanes for people walking or riding a bike.
While motorists are often the first consideration for road design, ‘safe’ road designs consider all road users – including people walking or riding a bike.
Features such as raised crossings, overpasses, underpasses, zebra crossings, and pedestrian lights at intersections are all designed for safety.
Around the world, cities have trialled new crossings such as painting optical illusions at zebra crossings to make the crossing appear to be 3D, reducing vehicle speeds.
SPEED BUMPS & SLOW POINTS
Road treatments such as speed bumps and slow points play an important role in reducing speeds in areas where road users often go too fast.
They act as a reminder to slow down and be alert and physically slow down a car if it is driving too fast.
Sealed shoulders (the side of the road) are instrumental in keeping regional roads safe as they help drivers maintain control and traction in the event they leave the road.
Road improvements along regional or rural roads often focus on sealing or widening the asphalt on the road shoulder, so cars have something to grip onto and to provide adequate space to pull-over in an emergency.
One of the deadliest types of crashes are where a vehicle leaves the road and hits a solid object or oncoming vehicle. This is where flexible barriers shine! Often installed in place of solid barriers, they absorb a lot of crash energy, help slow a vehicle down to a gentle stop.
They are strong enough to stop trucks and improve safety for the majority of road users. Motorcyclists however are more vulnerable, so barriers are less effective.
Driver fatigue is a silent killer on regional and rural roads. It slows your reactions and decisions, affects your lane tracking and speed maintenance and decreases your alertness.
A simple yet effective safety measure to combat this is the addition of rest bays and driver reviver stops on long stretches of highway.