5 Ways To Make Roads Safer For Cars

The world’s roadways might seem pretty safe. After all, most roads in developed countries are much safer than they were 20, 40, or 60 years ago. The vehicles are safer, too. But still, crashes account for 3,500 deaths on the world’s roads each day, and thousands more injuries, according to the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP). There are many steps to be taken, including making roads safer to use for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, but there are still strides to be made in improving road safety for cars, too. So what can be done to make roads safer for cars?

1. Energy Absorbing Safety Barriers

Much like lane-dividing barriers, energy-absorbing safety barriers are placed along roadsides, but are specifically designed to absorb the impact and take the brunt of a crash, minimizing harm to a vehicle’s occupants or other drivers. These are the barriers often found lining roads that run along a steep ridge. Energy-absorbing safety barriers can reduce the risk of death or injury in a run-off road incident by 40 to 60 percent, says iRAP, preventing an estimated 7,039 deaths or serious injuries per year. That’s a significant reduction in risk, and while energy-absorbing barriers can be costly, investments in road safety have an 11-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

2. Shoulder Rumble Strips

Placed just outside the traffic lane in the shoulder of a road, rumble strips are harmless to tires, but cause just enough disturbance to alert drivers when they are veering off of the road. This addition to roadsides could save thousands of lives per year in run-off road situations, and is even less expensive (though also less effective) to implement than the energy absorbing safety barriers.

3. Clear Roadside Obstructions

Keeping roads clear of overhanging trees, boulders, or other hazards is essential. Adequately protecting against such impact isn’t universally practiced in much of the world, even in densely populated, developed cities. Having a drivable runoff area near the roadway significantly reduces the risk of injury or death, according to iRAP.

4. Medians

Keeping oncoming cars separated from each other makes everyone safer. The better the median, the better the control of traffic, but even on very narrow roads, a wire rope median can reduce the risk of head-on collisions in high-risk areas. According to iRAP, median barriers could prevent 7,170 fatalities and serious injuries per year.

5. Better Signs and Lines

Demarcation and signage help drivers see where they’re supposed to be, where they’re supposed to go, and what the rules are in their immediate vicinity. Without these, traffic can be more chaotic, and chaos can lead to collisions. Improving signage and demarcation could prevent 1,158 deaths or serious injuries per year, according to iRAP.