There are 10,000 deaths and serious injuries on the roads of South East Europe annually, costing the region’s economy more than 2% of GDP. One reason for this high casualty rate is the existence of ‘killer roads’ – unforgiving roads where the risk of death and injury is heightened due to unsafe road design. EASST partners are participating in a new project in SE Europe aiming to achieve a ‘South East Europe Free of High Risk Roads’ (SENSoR).

SENSoR is supported by the South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme and by the European Union and takes place within the framework of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. SENSoR will survey nearly 15,000 km of roads in the region, highlighting road risk and developing ‘Safer Roads Investment Plans’ for public authorities.

EASST Director Emma MacLennan has been assisting with the development of this project, which will include thousands of kilometres of roads in Moldova and Ukraine. During a conference of SENSoR partners in Slovenia hosted by the Automobile Association of Slovenia (AMZS) on November 4-6, 2013, the importance of safe road design for reducing casualties in line with the Decade of Action was underlined.

Mr. Stanislav Ghiletchi presenting the upgrading and rehabilitation of the M2 road in Moldova, office of the Secretary General of the Moldovan Government

Much of the money being invested by the donor community in EASST partner countries and in SE Europe is intended for road building and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, some roads built with donor money have not been safe roads. Increased motorisation, higher speeds and poor road design have, in some cases, produced new roads far more lethal than the old roads they replaced.

The SENSoR trans-national collaboration spans 14 European countries. The project is implemented by eight main Partners, including EASST’s partner the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM). The Lead Partner to the project is the Greek road safety campaign, Make Roads Safe Hellas (MRSH).

The project is developing plans to eliminate high risk roads through:

(1) Risk Mapping of major transit routes across SEE countries;

(2) Star Rating of up to 15,000km of E-routes (the TEN-T network) and major roads where deaths are concentrated, using methodology developed by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) and EuroRAP;

(3) Development of “Bank ready” investment plans that are affordable and capable of being implemented as free-standing projects, in maintenance programmes or rehabilitation schemes.

3,150Km of the Slovenian network and 3,600Km of the Greek TEN-T network have already been surveyed with the use of a specially equipped inspection vehicle.  Training seminars and dissemination events are running in 11 countries aiming to raise public and political awareness of the road traffic injury epidemic.  Government support for this work is vital. In the words of Robert Staba, Project Director for the AMZS, “The strong support we receive from the Slovenian Government gives us the power to continue our ambitious work in the knowledge that action can be taken to save lives through safer road design.”

Vaggellis Bellos, Project Director for MRSH, summarised the project and its potential benefits:

“Work in other countries has shown that with safe road infrastructure upgrading, benefit/cost ratios of around 5 times the investment can be achieved, saving tens of thousands of deaths and serious injuries over the next 20 years. The SENSoR project will provide a common template for identifying risks on major roads across the region, and will help set priorities for high return infrastructure programmes to eliminate high-risk roads.!/splash