Road traffic safety refers to the methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or seriously injured. Typical road users include: pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers, horse-riders and passengers of on-road public transport (mainly buses and trams).
Best-practices in modern road safety strategy:
The basic strategy of a Safe System approach is to ensure that in the event of a crash, the impact energies remain below the threshold likely to produce either death or serious injury. This threshold will vary from crash scenario to crash scenario, depending upon the level of protection offered to the road users involved. For example, the chances of survival for an unprotected pedestrian hit by a vehicle diminish rapidly at speeds greater than 30 km/h, whereas for a properly restrained motor vehicle occupant the critical impact speed is 50 km/h (for side impact crashes) and 70 km/h (for head-on crashes).
— International Transport Forum, Towards Zero, Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach, Executive Summary page 19
As sustainable solutions for all classes of road have not been identified, particularly low-traffic rural and remote roads, a hierarchy of control should be applied, similar to classifications used to improve occupational safety and health. At the highest level is sustainable prevention of serious injury and death crashes, with sustainable requiring all key result areas to be considered. At the second level is real time risk reduction, which involves providing users at severe risk with a specific warning to enable them to take mitigating action. The third level is about reducing the crash risk which involves applying the road design standards and guidelines (such as from AASHTO), improving driver behavior and enforcement.
Traffic safety has been studied as a science for more than 75 years.
Road traffic crashes are one of the world’s largest public health and injury prevention problems. The problem is all the more acute because the victims are overwhelmingly healthy before their crashes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year. A report published by the WHO in 2004 estimated that some 1.2 million people were killed and 50 million injured in traffic collisions on the roads around the world each year and was the leading cause of death among children 10–19 years of age. The report also noted that the problem was most severe in developing countries and that simple prevention measures could halve the number of deaths.
The standard measures used in assessing road safety interventions are fatalities and killed or seriously injured (KSI) rates, usually per billion (109) passenger kilometres. Countries caught in the old road safety paradigm, replace KSI rates with crash rates — for example, crashes per million vehicle miles.
Vehicle speed within the human tolerances for avoiding serious injury and death is a key goal of modern road design because impact speed affects the severity of injury to both occupants and pedestrians. For occupants, Joksch (1993) found the probability of death for drivers in multi-vehicle accidents increased as the fourth power of impact speed (often referred to by the mathematical term δv ("delta V"), meaning change in velocity). Injuries are caused by sudden, severe acceleration (or deceleration); this is difficult to measure. However, crash reconstruction techniques can estimate vehicle speeds before a crash. Therefore, the change in speed is used as a surrogate for acceleration. This enabled the Swedish Road Administration to identify the KSI risk curves using actual crash reconstruction data which led to the human tolerances for serious injury and death referenced above.
Interventions are generally much easier to identify in the modern road safety paradigm, whose focus is on the human tolerances for serious injury and death. For example, the elimination of head-on KSI crashes simply required the installation of an appropriate median crash barrier. Also, roundabouts, often with speed reducing approaches, encounter very few KSI crashes.
The old road safety paradigm of purely crash risk is a far more complex matter. Contributing factors to highway crashes may be related to the driver (such as driver error, illness, or fatigue), the vehicle (brake, steering, or throttle failures), or the road itself (lack of sight distance, poor roadside clear zones, etc.). Interventions may seek to reduce or compensate for these factors, or reduce the severity of crashes. A comprehensive outline of interventions areas can be seen in management systems for road safety. Study conducted in Finland revealed that the fatality risk is increased most when a road accident type is either pedestrian or meeting of the vehicles.
In addition to management systems, which apply predominantly to networks in built-up areas, another class of interventions relates to the design of roadway networks for new districts. Such interventions explore the configurations of a network that will inherently reduce the probability of collisions.
Interventions for the prevention of road traffic injuries are often evaluated; the Cochrane Library has published a wide variety of reviews of interventions for the prevention of road traffic injuries.
For road traffic safety purposes it can be helpful to classify roads into three usages: built-up urban streets with slower speeds, greater densities, and more diversity among road users; non built-up rural roads with higher speeds; and major highways (motorways/ Interstates/ freeways/ Autobahns, etc.) reserved for motor-vehicles, and which are often designed to minimize and attenuate crashes. Most injuries occur on urban streets but most fatalities on rural roads, while motorways are the safest in relation to distance traveled. For example, in 2013, German autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic (in travel-kilometres) while accounting for 13% of Germany's traffic deaths. The autobahn fatality rate of 1.9 deaths per billion-travel-kilometres compared favorably with the 4.7 rate on urban streets and 6.6 rate on rural roads.
|Road Class||Injury Crashes||Fatalities||Injury Rate[rate 1]||Fatality Rate[rate 1]||Fatalities per 1000 Injury Crashes|
According to the WHO/IRTAD,
Traffic accident data are often compared between countries and between regions. These comparisons are done in numbers of casualties, but also in relation to the number of inhabitants (a measure of national health risk), the number of vehicle kilometres driven (a measure of the transport risk) as well as the number of cars in a country, etc. For a reliable comparison the real volumes should be used (rather than recorded numbers with different recording rates)
Within EU (with 28 countries), road safety impact several locomotion mode.
|Killed EU||Killed US|
|Global mortality by region per million inhabitant in 2015|
|US mortality by state per million inhabitant in 2013|
|EU mortality by state per million inhabitant in 2013|
|Fatalities by billion traveled km|
|Fatalities by VMT allow to compare different class of roads, here in France|
On neighborhood roads where many vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists can be found, traffic calming can be a tool for road safety. Though not strictly a traffic calming measure, mini-traffic circles implanted in normal intersections of neighbourhood streets have been shown to reduce collisions at intersections dramatically (see picture). Shared space schemes, which rely on human instincts and interactions, such as eye contact, for their effectiveness, and are characterised by the removal of traditional traffic signals and signs, and even by the removal of the distinction between carriageway (roadway) and footway (sidewalk), are also becoming increasingly popular. Both approaches can be shown to be effective.
For planned neighbourhoods, studies recommend new network configurations, such as the Fused Grid or 3-Way Offset. These layout models organize a neighbourhood area as a zone of no cut-through traffic by means of loops or dead-end streets. They also ensure that pedestrians and bicycles have a distinct advantage by introducing exclusive shortcuts by path connections through blocks and parks. Such a principle of organization is referred to as "Filtered Permeability" implying a preferential treatment of active modes of transport. These new patterns, which are recommended for laying out neighbourhoods, are based on analyses of collision data of large regional districts and over extended periods. They show that four-way intersections combined with cut-through traffic are the most significant contributors to increased collisions.
Modern safety barriers are designed to absorb impact energy and minimize the risk to the occupants of cars and bystanders. For example, most side rails are now anchored to the ground, so that they cannot skewer a passenger compartment. Most light poles are designed to break at the base rather than violently stop a car that hits them. Some road fixtures such as signs and fire hydrants are designed to collapse on impact. authorities have removed trees in the vicinity of roads; while the idea of "dangerous trees" has attracted a certain amount of skepticism, unforgiving objects such as trees can cause severe damage and injury to errant road users. Safety barriers can provide some combination of physical protection and visual protection depending on their environment. Physical protection is important for protecting sensitive building and pedestrian areas. Visual protection is necessary to alert drivers to changes in road patterns.
Most roads are cambered (crowned), that is, made so that they have rounded surfaces, to reduce standing water and ice, primarily to prevent frost damage but also increasing traction in poor weather. Some sections of road are now surfaced with porous bitumen to enhance drainage; this is particularly done on bends. These are just a few elements of highway engineering. As well as that, there are often grooves cut into the surface of cement highways to channel water away, and rumble strips at the edges of highways to rouse inattentive drivers with the loud noise they make when driven over. In some cases, there are raised markers between lanes to reinforce the lane boundaries; these are often reflective. In pedestrian areas, speed bumps are often placed to slow cars, preventing them from going too fast near pedestrians.
Poor road surfaces can lead to safety problems. If too much asphalt or bitumenous binder is used in asphalt concrete, the binder can 'bleed' or flush' to the surface, leaving a very smooth surface that provides little traction when wet. Certain kinds of stone aggregate become very smooth or polished under the constant wearing action of vehicle tyres, again leading to poor wet-weather traction. Either of these problems can increase wet-weather crashes by increasing braking distances or contributing to loss of control. If the pavement is insufficiently sloped or poorly drained, standing water on the surface can also lead to wet-weather crashes due to hydroplaning.
Lane markers in some countries and states are marked with cat's eyes, Botts' dots or reflective raised pavement markers that do not fade like paint. Botts dots are not used where it is icy in the winter, because frost and snowplows can break the glue that holds them to the road, although they can be embedded in short, shallow trenches carved in the roadway, as is done in the mountainous regions of California.
Road hazards and intersections in some areas are now usually marked several times, roughly five, twenty, and sixty seconds in advance so that drivers are less likely to attempt violent manoeuvres.
Most road signs and pavement marking materials are retro-reflective, incorporating small glass spheres or prisms to more efficiently reflect light from vehicle headlights back to the driver's eyes.
Turning across traffic
Turning across traffic (i.e., turning left in right-hand drive countries, turning right in left-hand drive countries) poses several risks. The more serious risk is a collision with oncoming traffic. Since this is nearly a head-on collision, injuries are common. It is the most common cause of fatalities in a built-up area. Another major risk is involvement in a rear-end collision while waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic.
Countermeasures for this type of collision include:
- Addition of left turn lanes
- Providing protected turn phasing at signalized intersections
- Using indirect turn treatments such as the Michigan left
- Converting conventional intersections to roundabouts
In the absence of these facilities as a driver about to turn:
- Keep your wheels straight, so that in the event of a rear end shunt, you are not pushed into on-coming traffic.
- When you think it is clear, look away, to the road that you are entering. There is an optical illusion that, after a time, presents an oncoming vehicle as further away and travelling slower. Looking away breaks this illusion.
There is no presumption of negligence which arises from the bare fact of a collision at an intersection, and circumstances may dictate that a left turn is safer than to turn right. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recommends in their publication Geometric Design of Highways and Streets that left or right turns are to be provided the sametime gap. Some states have recognized this in statute, and a presumption of negligence is only raised because of the turn if and only if the turn was prohibited by an erected sign.
Turns across traffic have been shown to be problematic for older drivers.
Designing for pedestrians and cyclists
Pedestrians and cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and in some countries constitute over half of all road deaths. Interventions aimed at improving safety of non-motorised users:
- Sidewalks of suitable width for pedestrian traffic
- Pedestrian crossings close to the desire line which allow pedestrians to cross roads safely
- Segregated pedestrian routes and cycle lanes away from the main highway
- Overbridges (tend to be unpopular with pedestrians and cyclists due to additional distance and effort)
- Underpasses (these can pose heightened risk from crime if not designed well, can work for cyclists in some cases)
- Traffic calming and speed humps
- Low speed limits that are rigorously enforced, possibly by speed cameras
- Shared space schemes giving ownership of the road space and equal priority to all road users, regardless of mode of use
- Pedestrian barriers to prevent pedestrians crossing dangerous locations
- Cycling infrastructure
- Protected intersection
American passive traffic safety measures which were adopted in the mid-20th century created roadways which were forgiving to motorists traveling at high speeds but which de-prioritized cycling and pedestrian facilities. Passive traffic safety policies led to excessively wide streets, clear zones adjacent to roadways, wide turn radii and a focus on protecting drivers from the consequences of high speeds. Passive traffic safety measures sought to avoid influencing the behavior of drivers while giving automobiles maximum convenience. Recent complete street policies seek to create design-oriented traffic safety improvements which actively slow drivers down by narrowing roadways while better accommodating pedestrians and cyclists.
Pedestrians' advocates question the equitability of schemes if they impose extra time and effort on the pedestrian to remain safe from vehicles, for example overbridges with long slopes or steps up and down, underpasses with steps and addition possible risk of crime and at-grade crossings off the desired crossing line. Make Roads Safe was criticised in 2007 for proposing such features. Successful pedestrian schemes tend to avoid over-bridges and underpasses and instead use at-grade crossings (such as pedestrian crossings) close to the intended route. Successful cycling schemes by contrast avoid frequent stops even if some additional distance is involved, because cyclists expend more energy when starting off.
In Costa Rica 57% of road deaths are pedestrians. However, a partnership between AACR, Cosevi, MOPT and iRAP has proposed the construction of 190 km of pedestrian footpaths and 170 pedestrian crossings which could save over 9000 fatal or serious injuries over 20 years. In Robert Beadles' Book, He outlines why it is so important to have Traffic control and why it is the most important aspect of keeping citizens safe on a motorway, "Correct Traffic Control and Road Traffic Safety is vital to keeping communities safe and people in our neighborhoods safe from danger."[better source needed]
Main article: Shared space
By 1947 the Pedestrians' Association was suggesting that many of the safety features being introduced (speed limits, traffic calming, road signs and road markings, traffic lights, Belisha beacons, pedestrian crossings, cycle lanes, etc.) were potentially self-defeating because "every nonrestrictive safety measure, however admirable in itself, is treated by the drivers as an opportunity for more speeding, so that the net amount of danger is increased and the latter state is worse than the first."
During the 1990s a new approach, known as 'shared space' was developed which removed many of these features in some places has attracted the attention of authorities around the world. The approach was developed by Hans Monderman who believed that "if you treat drivers like idiots, they act as idiots" and proposed that trusting drivers to behave was more successful than forcing them to behave.Professor John Adams, an expert on risk compensation suggested that traditional traffic engineering measures assumed that motorists were "selfish, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from their own stupidity" and non-motorists were treated as "vulnerable, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from cars – and their own stupidity".
Reported results indicate that the 'shared space' approach leads to significantly reduced traffic speeds, the virtual elimination of road casualties, and a reduction in congestion.Living streets share some similarities with shared spaces. The woonerven also sought to reduce traffic speeds in community and housing zones by the use of lower speed limits enforced by the use of special signage and road markings, the introduction of traffic calming measures, and by giving pedestrians priority over motorists.
Non built-up areas
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(April 2010)
Major highways including motorways, freeways, Autobahnen and interstates are designed for safer high-speed operation and generally have lower levels of injury per vehicle km than other roads; for example, in 2013, the German autobahn fatality rate of 1.9 deaths per billion-travel-kilometers compared favorably with the 4.7 rate on urban streets and 6.6 rate on rural roads.
Safety features include:
- limited access from the properties and local roads.
- Grade separated junctions
- Median dividers between opposite-direction traffic to reduce likelihood of head-on collisions
- Removing roadside obstacles.
- Prohibition of more vulnerable road users and slower vehicles.
- Placements of energy attenuation devices (e.g. guard rails, wide grassy areas, sand barrels).
- Eliminating road toll booths
The ends of some guard in rails on high-speed highways in the United States are protected with impact attenuators, designed to gradually absorb the kinetic energy of a vehicle and slow it more gently before it can strike the end of the guard rail head on, which would be devastating at high speed. Several mechanisms are used to dissipate kinetic energy. Fitch Barriers, a system of sand-filled barrels, uses momentum transfer from the vehicle to the sand. Many other systems are tear or deform steel members to absorb energy and gradually stop the vehicle.
In some countries major roads have "tone bands" impressed or cut into the edges of the legal roadway, so that drowsing drivers are awakened by a loud hum as they release the steering and drift off the edge of the road. Tone bands are also referred to as "rumble strips", owing to the sound they create. An alternative method is the use of "Raised Rib" markings, which consists of a continuous line marking with ribs across the line at regular intervals. They were first specially authorised for use on motorways as an edge line marking to separate the edge of the hard shoulder from the main carriageway. The objective of the marking is to achieve improved visual delineation of the carriageway edge in wet conditions at night. It also provides an audible/vibratory warning to vehicle drivers, should they stray from the carriageway, and run onto the marking.
Better motorways are banked on curves to reduce the need for tire-traction and increase stability for vehicles with high centers of gravity.
An example of the importance of roadside clear zones can be found on the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race course. It is much more dangerous than Silverstone because of the lack of runoff. When a rider falls off at Silverstone, he slides along slowly losing energy, with minimal injuries. When he falls off in the Manx, he impacts violently with trees and walls. Similarly, a clear zone alongside a freeway or other high speed road can prevent off-road excursions from becoming fixed-object crashes.
The US has developed a prototype automated roadway, to reduce driver fatigue and increase the carrying capacity of the roadway. Roadside units participating in future Wireless vehicle safety communications networks have been studied.
Motorways are far more expensive and space-consumptive to build than ordinary roads, so are only used as principal arterial routes. In developed nations, motorways bear a significant portion of motorized travel; for example, the United Kingdom's 3533 km of motorways represented less than 1.5% of the United Kingdom's roadways in 2003, but carry 23% of road traffic.
The proportion of traffic borne by motorways is a significant safety factor. For example, even though the United Kingdom had a higher fatality rates on both motorways and non-motorways than Finland, both nations shared the same overall fatality rate in 2003. This result was due to the United Kingdom's higher proportion of motorway travel.
Similarly, the reduction of conflicts with other vehicles on motorways results in smoother traffic flow, reduced collision rates, and reduced fuel consumption compared with stop-and-go traffic on other roadways.
The improved safety and fuel economy of motorways are common justifications for building more motorways. However, the planned capacity of motorways is often exceeded in a shorter timeframe than initially planned, due to the under estimation of the extent of the suppressed demand for road travel. In developing nations, there is significant public debate on the desirability of continued investment in motorways.
With effect from January 2005 and based primarily on safety grounds, the UK’s Highways Agency's policy is that all new motorway schemes are to use high containment concrete step barriers in the central reserve. All existing motorways will introduce concrete barriers into the central reserve as part of ongoing upgrades and through replacement as and when these systems have reached the end of their useful life. This change of policy applies only to barriers in the central reserve of high speed roads and not to verge side barriers. Other routes will continue to use steel barriers.
More people die on the hard shoulder than on the highway itself. Without other vehicles passing a parked car, following drivers are unaware that the vehicle is parked, despite hazard lights. Truck drivers indicate that they are parked by putting their cab seat behind their truck. In the UK, the AA and police park their vehicles on the hard shoulder at a slight angle so that following drivers can see down the side of their vehicle and are therefore aware that they are stopped.
30% of highway crashes that occur in the vicinity of toll collection booths in the countries that have them, these can be reduced by switching to electronic toll systems.
Safety can be improved in various ways depending on the transport taken.
Buses and coaches
Safety can be improved in various simple ways to reduce the chance of an accident occurring. Avoiding rushing or standing in unsafe places on the bus or coach and following the rules on the bus or coach itself will greatly increase the safety of a person travelling by bus or coach. Various safety features can also be implemented into buses and coaches to improve safety including safety bars for people to hold onto.
The main ways to stay safe when travelling by bus or coach are as follows:
- Leave your location early so that you do not have to run to catch the bus or coach.
- At the bus stop, always follow the queue.
- Do not board or alight at a bus stop other than an official one.
- Never board or alight at a red light crossing or unauthorized bus stop.
- Board the bus only after it has come to a halt without rushing in or pushing others.
- Do not sit, stand or travel on the footboard of the bus.
- Do not put any part of your body outside a moving or a stationary bus.
- While in the bus, refrain from shouting or making noise as it can distract the driver.
- Always hold onto the handrail if standing in a moving bus, especially on sharp turns.
- Always adhere to the bus safety rules.
Main article: Automobile safety
Safety can be improved by reducing the chances of a driver making an error, or by designing vehicles to reduce the severity of crashes that do occur. Most industrialized countries have comprehensive requirements and specifications for safety-related vehicle devices, systems, design, and construction. These may include:
- Passenger restraints such as seat belts — often in conjunction with laws requiring their use — and airbags
- Crash avoidance equipment such as lights and reflectors
- Driver assistance systems such as Electronic Stability Control
- Crash survivability design including fire-retardant interior materials, standards for fuel system integrity, and the use of safety glass
- Sobriety detectors: These interlocks prevent the ignition key from working if the driver breathes into one and it detects significant quantities of alcohol. They have been used by some commercial transport companies, or suggested for use with persistent drunk-driving offenders on a voluntary basis
Motorists and passengers - both front and rear - can make dooring less likely by practicing the "Dutch reach" - opening the car door by reaching across the body with the more distant hand.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(April 2010)
Main article: Motorcycle safety
UK road casualty statistics show that motorcycle riders are nine times more likely to crash, and 17 times more likely to die in a crash, than car drivers. The higher fatality risk is due in part to the lack of crash protection (unlike in enclosed vehicles such as cars), combined with the high speeds motorcycles typically travel at. According to US statistics, the percentage of intoxicated motorcyclists in fatal crashes is higher than other riders on roads. Helmets also play a major role in the safety of motorcyclists. In 2008, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the helmets are 37 percent effective in saving lives of motorcyclists involved in crashes.
According to the European Commission Transportation Department "it has been estimated that up to 25% of accidents involving trucks can be attributable to inadequate cargo securing". Improperly-secured cargo can cause severe accidents and lead to loss of cargo, loss of lives, loss of vehicles, and can be a hazard for the environment. One way to stabilize, secure, and protect cargo during transportation on the road is by using dunnage bags, which are placed in the voids among the cargo and are designed to prevent the load from moving during transport.
Together for Safer Roads (TSR) has developed best practices for implementing corporate road safety programs that includes data management and analysis, route mapping, investment and upkeep of fleets, safety policies and training for employees, and first-aid/safety training in case collisions do occur.
Hundreds of people are killed each year due to high-speed chases of fleeing suspects by police. Different jurisdictions allow such pursuits in different circumstances; fewer injuries might occur if these are restricted to violent felonies.
Regulation of road users
Various types of road user regulations are in force or have been tried in most jurisdictions around the world, some these are discussed by road user type below.
Motor vehicle users
Dependent on jurisdiction, driver age, road type and vehicle type, motor vehicle drivers may be required to pass a driving test (public transport and goods vehicle drivers may need additional training and licensing), conform to restrictions on driving after consuming alcohol or various drugs, comply with restrictions on use of mobile phones, be covered by compulsory insurance, wear seat belts and comply with certain speed limits. Motorcycle riders may additionally be compelled to wear a motorcycle helmet. Drivers of certain vehicle types may be subject to maximum driving hour regulations.
Some jurisdictions, such as the US states Virginia and Maryland, have implemented specific regulations such as the prohibiting mobile phone use by, and limiting the number of passengers accompanying, young and inexperienced drivers.The State of Safety Report from the National Safety Council released in 2017 ranks states on these road safety regulations. It has been noticed that more serious collisions occur at night, when vehicles are more likely to have multiple occupants, and when seat belts are less likely to be used.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety proposes restrictions for new drivers, including a "curfew" imposed on young drivers to prevent them driving at night, an experienced supervisor to chaperone the less experienced driver, forbidding the carrying of passengers, zero alcohol tolerance, raising the standards required for driving instructors and improving the driving test, vehicle restrictions (e.g. restricting access to 'high-performance' vehicles), a sign placed on the back of the vehicle (an N- or P-Plate) to notify other drivers of a novice driver and encouraging good behaviour in the post-test period.
While government has primary responsibility for providing safe roads, the challenges of development and equity require that all segments of society engage and contribute, including the private sector. Private and public sector coalitions, like Together for Safer Roads (TSR) and the Road to Zero Coalition exist to work alongside government policies to advance the business case of having safer roads; they help companies meet their duty of care to employees and minimize fleet-related dangers to the wider community. Safer roads also benefit business by improving employee health and safety, by protecting assets, reducing productivity losses and healthcare costs, and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of supply chains.
Some countries or states have already implemented some of these ideas through Vision Zero networks. Pay-as-you-drive adjusts insurance costs according to when and where the person drives.
Pedal bicycle users
Dependent on jurisdiction, road type and age, pedal cyclists may be required conform to restrictions on driving after consuming alcohol or various drugs, comply with restrictions on use of mobile phones, be covered by compulsory insurance, wear a bicycle helmet and comply with certain speed limits.
Dependent on jurisdiction, jaywalking may be prohibited.
See also: Roadkill § Prevention
Collisions with animals are usually fatal to the animals, and occasionally to drivers as well.
Information campaigns can be used to raise awareness of initiatives designed to reduce road casualty levels. Examples include:
Rating roads for safety
Since 1999 the EuroRAP initiative has been assessing major roads in Europe with a road protection score. This results in a star rating for roads based on how well its design would protect car occupants from being severely injured or killed if a head-on, run-off, or intersection accident occurs, with 4 stars representing a road with the best survivability features. The scheme states it has highlighted thousands of road sections across Europe where road-users are routinely maimed and killed for want of safety features, sometimes for little more than the cost of safety fencing or the paint required to improve road markings.
There are plans to extend the measurements to rate the probability of an accident for the road. These ratings are being used to inform planning and authorities' targets. For example, in Britain two-thirds of all road deaths in Britain happen on rural roads, which score badly when compared to the high quality motorway network; single carriageways claim 80% of rural deaths and serious injuries, while 40% of rural car occupant casualties are in cars that hit roadside objects, such as trees. Improvements in driver training and safety features for rural roads are hoped to reduce this statistic.
The number of designated traffic officers in the UK fell from 15–20% of police force strength in 1966 to seven per cent of force strength in 1998, and between 1999 and 2004 by 21%. It is an item of debate whether the reduction in traffic accidents per 100 million miles driven over this time has been due to robotic enforcement.
In the United States, roads are not government-rated, for media-releases and public knowledge on their actual safety features. [unclear] However, in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Traffic Safety Facts found that over 800 persons were killed across the USA by "non-fixed objects" that includes roadway debris. California had the highest number of total deaths from those crashes; New Mexico had a best chance for an individual to die from experiencing any vehicle-debris crash.
Main article: Epidemiology of motor vehicle collisions
See also: List of countries by traffic-related death rate
According to WHO in 2010 it was estimated that 1.24 million people were killed worldwide and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions. Young adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of global road traffic deaths. Other key facts according to the WHO report are:
- Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people, aged 15–29 years.
- 91% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately half of the world's vehicles.
- Half of those dying on the world’s roads are "vulnerable road users": pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
- Without action, road traffic crashes are predicted to result in the deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020.
- Only 28 countries, representing 416 million people (7% of the world’s population), have adequate laws that address all five risk factors (speed, drink-driving, helmets, seat-belts and child restraints).
It is estimated that motor vehicle collisions caused the death of around 60 million people during the 20th century, around the same number of World War II casualties.
As the comparatively poor improvements in pedestrian safety have become a concern at OECD level, the Joint Transport Research Centre of OECD and the International Transport Forum (JTRC) convened an international expert group and published a report entitled ”Pedestrian Safety, Urban Space and Health in 2012”.
According to the OECD's International Transport Forum (ITF
- ^ abper 1,000,000,000 travel-kilometres
Pia Perttula, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Road safety is important for all road users. Every year more than one million people are injured in road accidents in Europe. In recent years, the number of vehicles on roads has increased, as has the number of goods transported by road. This makes road safety even more important.
Estimations reveal that over half of all fatal work accidents in Europe are road accidents, i.e. crashes while commuting or work-related driving. Employers can influence their workers' road safety by providing adequate resources for driving during, to, or from work. Road safety in general can be increased through three main channels: road users, the traffic environment, and the condition of the vehicles on the roads.
Road accidents are undesired events that lead to injury or death. These deaths and injuries result in significant social and economic costs . Although the number of fatalities on the roads has decreased in the past few years, over a million people are still involved in road accidents. About 26,000 people died in road accidents in Europe(EU-28)in 2014. More than half of road fatalities involve people inside motor vehicles; the rest are either pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists 
Deaths and injuries caused by road accidents result in significant social and economic costs. Furthermore many occupational fatalities occur in road traffic and transportation crashes. In addition to professional drivers, other workers, for whom driving is not their core activity, are also frequently required to travel by road, e.g. all commuting workers also use the road.
Road users pose risks to each other. Young people, between 15 and 24 years old, face the largest risk in traffic: they make up 11% of the Population but 17% of all road fatalities . Pedestrians, cyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists have a higher injury rate per kilometre of travel than other road users.
Work-related accidents on the road may involve any traffic type. Different traffic types face different risks on the road, and when they are all in the same space, these risks increase.
Human error is often seen as the cause of road accidents. While it may not be possible to stop people from making mistakes, these mistakes need not result in fatalities. The traffic environment must be developed in such a way that human errors do not lead to serious consequences 
Road accident risk prevention
Road safety means safety for all road users. Accident risks on the road, during both work-related driving and leisure time driving, involve risks to the driver, passengers and other road users. Today's continuously changing traffic environment requires constant alertness on the part of road users . Speeding, drunk driving and failure to wear a seat belt are the three main reasons for road accidents .
Traffic regulations are intended to decrease the risk of accidents. Improving road safety involves dealing with issues related to road users, the traffic environment, and the condition of vehicles. Investigating road accidents can also prevent further accidents. Work-related road safety should be managed by integrating it into the arrangements for managing overall health and safety at work. Accident prevention on roads includes factors related to the traffic environment, vehicles and road users whether this is work or leisure related.
Work-related road safety should be managed by integrating it into the employers' arrangements for managing overall health and safety at work. Work-related traffic accidents can be prevented through technical measures and organisational measures at workplaces, and adequate training. In addition, investigating road accidents can prevent future accidents.
As employers are responsible for the occupational safety of their workers, the following should be included in the workplace's driving policy:
- Training for employees (safe driving, first aid, loading of vehicles, how to report accidents and near misses on the road, etc.)
- Appropriate, safe vehicles with appropriate safety devices
- Clarification of responsibilities for the maintenance of vehicles and safety devices
- Rules prohibiting phone conversations while driving
- Rules prohibiting driving under the influence
- Schedules made loose enough for safe driving and flexibility of working time
- Rules on taking breaks while travelling on the road
- A process for gathering and handling accident reports, near miss reports and safety notices from the road.
Workers in the road transport sector are protected by European directives on occupational safety and health, which are implemented in Member State legislation. Directive 89/391/EU (framework directive) sets the basic principles for risk prevention. The road transport sector is covered by various directives and regulations on driving and road transport (for example the regulation 561/2006/EC on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in the carriage of goods and passengers) .
Regulations require that all occupants of all motor vehicles wear seatbelts on both front and rear seats . Employers should point out to their workers that it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that all passengers wear seatbelts. Bus drivers should also inform passengers that seatbelts should be worn in buses.
Traffic environment and visibility
Weather is often a factor involved in road accidents. Changes in weather conditions can alter the road surface, which can increase the risk of skidding, thus increasing the distance needed to stop a vehicle. Icy road surfaces also increase risks for pedestrians.
Inadequate visibility is another risk factor on the road. This can be due to: the weather, darkness, covered or broken vehicle windows, lack of lights or reflectors. Other visibility risks are road users' changed or weakened eyesight.
Streetlights increase the ability to see the traffic environment in darkness, and this is why companies should ensure that roads leading to the workplace are well lit. Encouraging pedestrians or cyclists to wear reflective clothing increases their visibility, thus increasing their safety on the road.
Ergonomic working conditions and health of drivers
Professional drivers have little control over their ergonomic working conditions. As they are exposed to prolonged sitting, they face the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, shoulders and back. Professional drivers are also exposed to vibration produced by the vehicle. Whole body vibration and prolonged sitting or standing are both widespread problems that increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (especially back disorders). Because of this, employers should ensure that professional drivers' cabins are adequately designed. Ergonomics, such as the design of the seat and other equipment should be considered, and appropriate advice on driving posture should be provided.
Another problem is exposure to road dust and diesel fumes, a carcinogenic mixture, which occurs in all subsectors, including public transport, for example at bus stops .
Employers play an important role in promoting health at the workplace, and occupational health services monitor the health of an organisation's employees. Employers must conduct suitable risk assessments and put in place all 'reasonable practicable' measures to ensure that work related journeys are safe, staff are fit and are competent to drive safely and the vehicles used are fit for purposes and in safe condition. When deciding on a driver, the nature of work-time travelling tasks should be checked and possible workers' diseases considered . Drivers who suffer from e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or epilepsy should undergo regular medical examinations and ocular tests, as should ageing drivers. Employers must ensure that people who drive for work are aware that they must meet the minimum legal eyesight standards and encourage them to have their sight tested regularly.
Safety devices and aspects
When work tasks require road travel, the technical condition of vehicles is important. Employers should provide vehicles that are equipped with safety devices (i.e. airbags, electronic stability control, blind spot monitoring, lane support systems, speed alerts, adaptive headlights systems, etc.). In a four-wheel vehicle, seatbelts can decrease the risk of fatal injuries in a crash.
Wearing a helmet decreases the risk of head injuries while cycling, roller-skating or motorcycling. Several countries have legislation requiring cyclists to wear helmets. Cycling helmets can protect the head when properly used. If workplaces provide bicycles for their workers, the condition of the bicycles should be checked regularly. Employers should also take safety aspects into consideration when buying any vehicles for their companies; all new car models must pass certain safety tests before they are bought for use by an organisation. EuroNCAP provides up-to-date and comprehensive online information regarding the safety of cars for occupant protection 
Regular checks and maintenance
In addition to regular general checks, workers should be taught to check the condition of their vehicle before starting to drive. If the vehicle is damaged or fails the check, the driver should have repairs done before setting out. The driver should ensure that there is good visibility from inside the vehicle by cleaning the windows or removing snow before starting to drive.
Maintaining safe vehicles is crucial for road safety. Employers should provide procedures to ensure that vehicles are maintained, and tests for motor vehicle safety should be performed annually. As tyres are important, especially when braking, they must meet safety requirements. They should be checked before driving and replaced by new ones when they show signs of wear. Tyre pressure needs to be checked regularly as well. Seasonal changes in road surfaces may necessitate different tyres in summer than in winter.
Many goods are transported on roads. In order to avoid accidents caused by shifting materials it is essential to fix the load in such a way that it will not be shed, even in sudden braking situations. The weight of the load should not exceed the capacity of the vehicle. Employers should ensure that their workers are aware of the correct way of fixing loads and the weight limits of their vehicles .
Risk assessment and organisation policy
A workplace's risk assessment should include road traffic risks. Employers should ensure that the vehicle used at work is adapted according to the people and/or loads to be transported. Employers must conduct suitable risk assessments and put in place measures to ensure that work related journeys are safe, staff are fit and are competent to drive safely and that vehicles are fit-for-purpose and in a safe condition .
Employers must make sure that workers and managers are aware of the organisations' policy of safe driving. Following speeding regulations means that one should never drive faster than road conditions safely allow, and everyone should obey speed limits at all times (including variable limits and temporary limits at road works). Employers should ensure that journey schedules, distances and plans allow sufficient time for drivers to complete their journeys (including rest breaks and taking into account foreseeable weather and traffic conditions).
Customers should be made aware of the company's road safety commitment and be encouraged to take a greater interest in road safety (i.e. avoid making any concessions that might adversely affect road safety, such as changes to driving hours and waiting times or requests to overload vehicles).
The employer can ensure that workers have the prerequisites for safe road travel by providing training. Training of drivers of different vehicle types and different work situations increases their awareness of risks. Different vehicle types demand different training, but traffic regulations are the same for all road users. It is important that all road users know and adhere to traffic regulations. Awareness of traffic safety can be maintained and even increased by traffic safety campaigns.
Training of road users should begin early and they should also be taught safe road habits (as keeping the distance, non-aggressive driving, etc.). These habits should be repeated to workers if their work requires driving, and training should be updated regularly in order to keep road safety in mind.
Managing time pressure and fatigue
In addition to general road accident risks, professional drivers face risks caused by work organisational stressors, i.e. just-in-time management and client pressure. Time pressure can lead to risky situations on roads; careless behaviour and speeding. High speed increases the risk of serious, even fatal, road crashes. Fatigue is another well-known traffic accident risk. When drivers do not get enough sleep, or undergo a long period of wakefulness, they are even more tired.
Transport workers face long working days and weeks and have varying working hours (in the evening, shifts, at night, on weekends). Taxi and bus drivers, since they work alone and at night and have cash in the vehicle face the risk of violence: clients may have drunk excessive amounts of alcohol or have taken drugs.
Employers can improve work-time road safety by allowing working time flexibility. This enables employees to avoid travelling during rush hours. In order to avoid haste on the road, routes and schedules for transportation or road travel should be planned so that it is possible to take breaks and adhere to speed limits. Different weather and rush hour conditions have to be taken into account when planning schedules. Time pressure may cause speeding, and also increases workers' stress.
An employer can decrease drivers' fatigue by planning schedules in such a way that enables drivers to take breaks. Drivers can prevent fatigue by setting out on a journey after a good rest. Working hours and periods of rest are regulated for drivers of heavy goods vehicles. These regulations are uniform throughout the European Union and in the European Economic Area. They limit the time that drivers are allowed to work to a maximum of nine hours per day, with the option of working ten hours per day for a maximum of two days a week. After six consecutive working days, drivers are obliged to take a weekly rest period of at least 45 consecutive hours of freely disposed time . The risk of fatigue also exists for non-professional car drivers, and should be taken into consideration after a long working day and possibly a long drive home (commuter traffic).
Challenges of monotonous work
Driving is a monotonous task, especially on motorways. At the same time however, it requires a high degree of concentration. Drivers often drive faster on motorways than on rural roads and high speed increases the risk of crashing. When increasing speed, a driver should be even more alert. The fact that driving is a monotonous task may decrease the drivers’ attention to the traffic environment, and this can lower the reaction time of the driver.
Even though employers are responsible for the occupational safety of their workers, drivers themselves are in a key position to prevent road accidents. They should adhere to speed limits and traffic regulations, as speeding increases the risk of fatal car crashes. Employers should establish a written safety policy and instructions for the drivers. Employer should emphasise that:
- staff should never drive faster than road conditions safely allow,
- should obey speed limits at all times (including variable limits and temporary limits at roadworks) and
- that persistent failure to do so will be treated as a serious matter .
Avoiding simultaneous tasks while driving
Professional drivers may need to use communication devices while driving. As carrying out other tasks while driving distracts the driver's attention, this poses a risk. The use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is prohibited in many European countries. However, there is research to suggest that talking on the phone with “hands-free” systems while driving also poses significant risk, and is possibly more dangerous than drink driving . Drivers should avoid being involved in complex conversations while driving; they need to concentrate hard on continuously changing traffic conditions. Employers should ban the use of mobile phones while driving. There are already examples on companies adopting this policy . The rules of speaking on the phone while driving should be added to work procedures. If speaking on the phone is essential on the road, workers should be encouraged to stop the vehicle until the telephone conversation is over, even if the driver is using a hand-free device. Furthermore, other road users' behaviour may be unpredictable, which can result in accidents unless the driver's full attention is on the traffic.
Workplace policy on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs poses a serious risk not only to the driver, but also to passengers and other road users. Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, making drivers more likely to take risks. Substance abuse slows reactions, increases stopping distances, affects judgement of speed and distance, and reduces the field of vision.
Employers should stress that workers, as well as managers, must not drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medicine. Workmates should not enter a vehicle if they suspect that the driver is under the influence of these substances. Technical control devices can be of help; Alcohol interlocks are being introduced in some countries in order to prevent the vehicle starting if the driver has been drinking.
Third-party violence is an occupational risk in the transport sector, especially for drivers who work in passenger transport Services . Changes in work organisation such as increased lone working, growing work intensity, direct contact with clients, increased client demands for services, and conflicting tasks of transport workers are all contributing factors to the rise in violent incidents .
The employer should train employees in managing difficult situations with customers , and provide equipments for getting help.
Ensuring the ability to help – safely
An accident on the road may result in additional crashes if vehicles drive too close to each other. Road safety can be increased in post-crash situations. If there has been a road accident, it is essential that those who stop – both just a passer-by and professional emergency personnel – to help the victims are wearing visible, preferably reflective clothing and that they park their own vehicles so that they do not cause any harm to other road users. Employers should provide first aid training for their workers so that they can act if accidents occur. Although today help arrives faster than a few decades ago because of mobile phones, first aid provided by the first people to arrive at the accident scene might save the lives of victims.
Investigating road accidents
The traffic environment is one of the main issues to be considered in road safety. Basically, roads should be developed so that there is enough space for different traffic users. For example, having different lanes for cyclists and pedestrians increases safety. Pelican crossings, flyovers or tunnels make it safer to cross the road.
Employees should be encouraged to report all work-related road incidents without fear that punitive action will be taken against them. Accident and near miss reports provide information regarding places in which dangers exist. Inadequate maintenance of roads and road surfaces may lead to road accidents. Employers can improve their workers' road safety by collecting reports on places that pose particular risks to commuters and professional drivers, and by investigating road accidents and afterwards providing feedback and safety suggestions to those responsible for the traffic environment (for example, to municipal authorities).
- ↑ 1.01.11.2ETSC – European Transport Safety Council, Tackling the Three Main Killers on Europe’s Roads, Traffic Law Enforcement across the EU, 2011. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑ 2.02.1EC – European Commission, Road Safety (2015). Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
- ↑EC – European Commission, DG for Mobility and Transport, Road Safety in the European Union – trends, statistics and main challenges, March 2015, p. 10. Available at: 
- ↑WHO – World Health Organization, World report on road traffic injury prevention, WHO, Geneva, 2004. Available at: 
- ↑Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
- ↑Council Directive 91/671/EEC of 16 December 1991 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to compulsory use of safety belts in vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes. Available at: 
- ↑ 7.07.1EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work, OSH in figures: Occupational safety and health in the transport sector — An overview, 2011. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑ROSPA - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Driving for work - Fitness to drive, 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
- ↑ROSPA - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Driving for work - Vehicle technology. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑Eurocnap, The official site of the European new car assessment programme (2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work, 'Preventing Road Accidents involving Heavy Goods Vehicles', factsheet 18, 2001. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work, OSH in figures: Occupational safety and health in the transport sector — An overview, 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
- ↑ROSPA – The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Vehicle technology, a manager's guide, (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work, 'Preventing Road Accidents involving Heavy Goods Vehicles', factsheet 18, 2001. Retrieved 10 June, 2011, from: 
- ↑Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 of 20 December 1985 on the harmonization of certain social legislation relating to road transport. Available at: 
- ↑ROSPA - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (no publishing date). Driving for work - Safer speeds, 2011. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
- ↑ 17.017.1ETSC – European Transport Safety Council, 'Minimising In Vehicle Distraction', PRAISE Thematic Report 5, 2010. Available at: 
- ↑EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Workplace Violence and Harassment: a European Picture, European Risk Observatory Report, 2010, pp. 1-160. Available at: 
- ↑European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Taxi drivers’ safety and health: A European Review of good practice guidelines, 2011. Available at: 
- ↑EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 'Violence at work', Factsheet 24, 2002. Available at: 
Links for further reading
Åkerstedt, T., 'Consensus Statement: Fatigue and accidents in transport operations', Journal of Sleep Research No. 9 (4), 2000, pp. 395.
ASIRT – Association for Safe International Road Travel (2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
BASt – The Federal Highway Research Institute (2006). Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
Danish Transport Authority (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Department for Transport (UK) (2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Elvik, R., 'Why some road safety problems are more difficult to solve than others', Accident Analysis and Prevention No. 42, 2010, pp. 1089–96.
ERF – European Union Road Federation (2009). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
E-Safety Challenge (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
ETSC – European Transport Safety Council PRAISE project on road safety at work (2014). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (no publishing date). Occupational Safety and Health of Road Transport Drivers. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (no publishing date), FAQs. Transport. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work – Online interactive Risk Asseysssment Tool OiRA (2015). OiRA tools. Different tools concerning transportation from France, Greece, Portugal and Slovenia. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 'Delivering the message Campaigning on OSH in the road transport sector', factsheet 97, 2011. Available at: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Delivering the message — Programmes, initiatives and opportunities to reach drivers and SMEs in the road transport sector, Report 2011. Available at: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 'Managing risks to drivers in road transport: good practice cases', factsheet 98, 2011. Available at: 
EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Managing risks to drivers in road transport, Report, 2011. Available at: 
EC – European Commission,Causes and circumstances of accidents at work in the EU 2008. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
EuroRAP – European Road Assessment Programme (2014). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
FERSI – Forum of European Road Safety Research Institutes (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Horne, J. & Reyner, L., 'Vehicle accidents related to sleep: a review', Occupational and Environmental Medicine, No. 56, 1999, pp. 289-94.
IRF – International Road Federation (2014). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
International Road Safety (2001-2009). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
NETS – Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Nordic Road and Transport Research (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Liikenneturva – Central Organisation for Traffic Safety in Finland (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
Road Safety Scotland (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
ROSPA – The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (no publishing date). Managing Occupational Road Risks. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
SWOV – Institute for Road Safety Research (Netherlands) (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from:
TISPOL – European Traffic Police Network (2000-2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from 
TraFi – Finnish Transport Safety Agency (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
The National Society for Road Safety (Sweden) (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
UN Road Safety Collaboration (2015). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from:
UN Road Safety Collaboration (2015). Decade of Action. Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
VTI – Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (no publishing date). Retrieved 12 Mai 2015, from: 
OSH: Driving, Drivers, Driver fatigue, Driving period, Safety behaviour, Road accidents, Accidents, Accident prevention, Transport accidents, Transport accidents of dangerous goods, Transport safety
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