In conversation with...Lina Konstantinopoulou

Written by The Parliament Magazine on 6 September 2019 in Interviews
Interviews

Through its partnerships with civil society, motoring organisations, vehicle manufacturers and road authorities, EuroRAP is championing a Europe free of high-risk roads, explains new Secretary General, Lina Konstantinopoulou

Photo credit: EuroRAP


What are EuroRAP’s main goals and objectives and what programmes are you running to achieve them?

The European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) is an international not-for-profit organisation that aims to reduce death and serious injury on Europe’s roads. We address this through a programme of systematic risk assessment and by identifying shortcomings that can be addressed by practical road improvement measures.

Road Assessment Programmes (RAP) were introduced following the success of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), which has already saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented countless serious injuries. In 2005, with the support of the World Bank, we established iRAP as an umbrella organisation for developing RAP programmes worldwide; we now have 100 partner countries.


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What do you see as your main goals and challenges for the next five years?

One major challenge is that Europe’s mobility landscape is continuously changing. If we are to reduce deaths and injuries on Europe’s roads, working closely with our partners is essential. That is why we are developing new national partnerships where countries propose their own ‘national scheme’ to develop infrastructure safety over the coming five years.

Some countries are already formally managing their networks using specific safety performance metrics, as recommended by the OECD. These include measures such as “90 percent of travel will be on 3-star roads or better by 2025’. Others are bench marking their performance before making commitments. At EuroRAP, we are trying to provide a space where countries can exchange knowledge. Shortly, we will present the first results of network-wide safety assessments (safety ratings) in detailed accordance with the revised European Union Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive through the recently-funded Connected Europe Facility SLAIN project.

“One major challenge is that Europe’s mobility landscape is continuously changing. If we are to reduce deaths and injuries on Europe’s roads, working closely with our partners is essential”

Among other activities, Project SLAIN, in support of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), will perform a three-part study to demonstrate the readiness of Europe’s physical infrastructure for automation. This will include verifying road markings, developing the automatic coding methodology for the European network for network wide assessment and producing AI algorithms for identifying and combining datasets of vehicle sensors.

We want to be at the forefront of this revolution and ensure it happens safely for those using increasingly-automated and connected vehicles and other road users. EuroRAP will be supporting the European Commission’s Cooperative, Connected, Automated and Autonomous Mobility (CCAM) Single platform initiative, where we are members. We also welcome the European Partnership for safe and automated road transport.

In addition, at international level, we are working with iRAP (the International Road Assessment Programme) to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the ViDA online platform. By using common metrics, ViDA has become the world’s largest infrastructure safety database, with nearly half a million kilometres of Star Rating and Investment Plan assessments in 54 countries. We thank all the organisations that pool their data in this collaboration, and we welcome any potential partner organisations seeking to deliver tangible reductions in road trauma by raising infrastructure safety standards.

This year’s European mobility week theme puts safe walking and cycling in the spotlight. How is EuroRAP addressing urban road safety?

Until now, the priority has been to develop programmes to address the highest-risk areas. The vast majority of road deaths occur outside urban areas. Fortunately, the RAP protocols include safety assessments for pedestrians and cyclists. This way, we know that most of the world’s roads lack footpaths, even where vehicles travel fast and there are large numbers of pedestrians.

For example, the Star Rating for Schools pilot (SR4S) is currently being tested in hundreds of schools. Urban development in 10 mega-cities is taking place with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies. CycleRAP, an innovation by the Royal Dutch Touring Club has been explored in major cities in the Netherlands, incorporating bike accident data and analysing a larger number of road features that pose measurable hazards to safe cycling.

How do you seek to work with national governments and EU policymakers to mobilise action on road safety?

We have already started. Only ten years ago, the world’s road safety ministers had never met and there was no global collaboration on road safety. As road deaths rose to levels comparable with malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, WHO put in place a Decade of UN Action and collaboration. Explicit Sustainable Development Goals were agreed aimed at cutting road deaths by half by 2020.

“I’m confident that the new European Parliament leadership will maintain and increase ambition for tackling road safety, building on the EU’s recent work”

While responsibility for roads, mobility, sustainability, and data sits with national governments, NGOs such as EuroRAP play a strong role in developing internationally-recognised metrics for assessment as well as the business case for improving road network safety performance.

If we are to reduce road trauma, we need more leadership role models, much in the same way as climate change has teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. I’m confident that the new European Parliament leadership will maintain and increase ambition for tackling road safety, building on the EU’s recent work. EuroRAP will soon launch a Europe-wide campaign roadshow to mobilise action on road safety assessment.

I look forward to working with our newly-elected MEPs, national governments, the European Coordinator for Road Safety and European Commission officials on this exciting new project.

For more information about EuroRAP, you can visit: https://www.eurorap.org/

This article is sponsored by EuroRAP

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