Road Infrastructure Safety Management

Directive 2008/96/EC on road infrastructure safety management establishes management procedures ensuring that the road network is safe. The Directive's application to the trans-European road network is binding, but Member States can extend its scope on a voluntary basis.

Five years after the adoption of the Directive, the Commission intends to conduct an independent and objective assessment of the state of implementation of the Directive and its impacts on road safety, and look into possible changes in light of technological developments. The specific objectives of the study are:
  • To conduct an ex-post evaluation of the application of Directive 2008/96/EC. What were the main impacts of its application on road safety? What steps were taken to implement the Directive? What is the relevance of the Directive?
  • To provide a preliminary analysis of the possible areas of improvement with regards to road safety and the safety of road infrastructure in particular.
Important elements within the study were the stakeholder survey to collect the necessary data and the organisation of a stakeholder conference.

As a whole, the Directive has certainly triggered a different way of thinking about and dealing with road safety management. First, because it has encouraged a generalized use of the Road Safety Infrastructure Management (RISM) procedures which are now established in all Member States and which are based on a minimal set of compulsory rules in the management of the TEN-T roads (in many cases also applied to non-TEN-T roads). It is equally important that the Directive provides a “common language” for carrying out road infrastructure safety management which relies upon a harmonized legislative framework. At the national level, the Directive has instigated a normative and operational process that would not have happened in such a widespread manner without EC intervention.

The main weakness of this Directive, by contrast, relates to the limited scope of its application, i.e. this piece of EU legislation only applies to the TEN-T road network and not to non-TEN-T roads. The possibility of extending the requirements stipulated by the Directive to non TEN-T roads was left to the discretion of Member States and, accordingly, the national legislative settings have been developed by most Member States.

Based on a data analysis of the location in which accidents happen and the types of road users that are involved, data available on the TEN-T network, the input received from the stakeholders and the information which came out of the ex-post evaluation, we elaborated the eight themes which proved most promising. These included the extension to other roads, a larger focus on vulnerable road users (VRU), the measurement of the safety performance of roads and the possibility of linking a certification to safety performance, providing more information to citizens and road users, information exchange between professionals, the obligation to accept road safety auditor certificates from other Member States, better integrating ITS systems and having clearer definitions of the different procedures.

The mandatory extension to all motorways which would improve traffic safety and create more consistency for road users would be most promising. At the same time, it avoids the large costs associated with an extension of the Directive to all roads. Given that it does not seem feasible to extend the Directive to all road users, it makes sense to focus more on powered two wheelers (PTW). This can be done within the framework of a series of workshops/guidelines which should be developed to facilitate the exchange of information. Note that the decision to set up workshops in order to facilitate the exchange of information should be preceded by a thorough analysis of current practices and the information that is currently available. The measurement of safety performance of roads might provide incentives to policy makers, but should probably not be linked to a certification since there is little support for this. It would also require a common method that would not be in line with the spirit of the current Directive. The Directive could emphasise the role of infrastructure in supporting the deployment of ITS applications. Linked to this is the issue of establishing standards for certain road infrastructure elements or making their use mandatory. This could help improve road safety and warrants further research.

TML led the project. Within the ex post evaluation, we focussed on assessing the safety effect of the Directive. Furthermore TML was responsible for the preliminary analysis of possible areas of improvement with regard to road safety and the safety of road infrastructure in particular.




European Commission, DG MOVE


TRT, Prospex

Our team

Eef Delhaye
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