Road crashes are now widely recognised as a serious social and economic problem. Different measures and programs have been devised to try to reduce deaths and injuries on roads. One of the misconceptions by the general public is that the faults or bad behaviour of a driver are, in almost all cases, the sole cause of road traffic crashes. In part this is because police in all countries tend to blame the driver for “driving too fast”, “not stopping at a stop sign” etc instead of also looking at why the driver did what he did .For example was the stop sign hidden behind vegetation ?, were the vehicle brakes ok ? etc As a consequence most police reports blame “driver error” as the main cause and researchers subsequently analysing data will always show this as the main cause. However, research also indicates that in around 34% of crashes, road environment has at least some influence on the occurrence of a crash. In low and middle income countries, due to the likelihood of less well maintained roads, road related factors may have even more influence.
Black spot management (BSM) is the process of identification, analysis and treatment of the most hazardous locations on a road network. BSM is a well proven method for reducing the numbers and severities of crashes on a road network. Low cost remedial treatments can offer first year rates of return of several hundred percent. Consequently, black spot treatments are amongst the most cost-effective investments a Road Authority can undertake..
The publication of European Union Directive no. 2008/96 on road infrastructure safety management (published October 2008), the EU made a clear decision that BSM should become mandatory for the trans-European Road Network and that BSM should be included as part of a package of road safety measures and techniques that all roads authorities should be using . This excellent document is downloadable free and gives guidance on the measures and techniques that are most effective and includes :
- Road safety impact assessment (RIA);
- Road safety audit for the design stages of roads (RSA);
- Safety ranking and management of the road network in operation, including management of high risks road sections (BSM);
- Road safety inspections for existing roads (RSI);
- In-depth crash analysis (IDS).
BSM offers a systematic approach for identification, analysis, treatment and evaluation of countermeasures used at hazardous locations on the road network. The basis for Black Spot identification is statistical data analysis of road crash records (usually a rolling 3 year period) together with mapping of crash site locations onto the network to identify specific locations for attention. The output of BSM is normally a proposal of safety engineering countermeasures which will decrease the risk of crashes or severities at the treated locations.