Road safety Infrastructure Speeding up

Speeding up the mobility transition | Alessandro Bortolotti | STRATEC RT

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

‘Can we expect a driver to know how a guardrail works?’

With the continuous growth of the population and ongoing urbanization there are numerous mobility challenges. Sustainability, safety and societal impact are amongst our daily concerns. We need to speed up the mobility transition to keep up with the fast changing global dynamics, which requires inventive approaches and better solutions. In this series we share inspiring and innovative cases from all over the world. Alessandro Bortolotti is project manager and marketing manager at STRATEC RT. How does he speed up the mobility transition?

‘Italy was shocked by the bus falling from a bridge close to the city of Avellino in 2013 and the collapsing Genoa bridge in 2018. Things had to change. COVID-19 showed us something different.’

‘Since the outbreak the number of road accidents followed by death or injury decreased by 29.5% in Italy between January-September 2020. In the first nine months of 2020 the number of deaths dropped by 43.1% compared to 2010 and by 66.4% compared with the same period in 2001. The decrease in fatalities affects all road areas: in the first nine months of the year it is estimated at approximately 50% on motorways, between 40 and 44% on urban and extra-urban roads.’

‘In 24 European countries the European Transport Safety Council recorded an average decrease in mortality of 36% in April 2020. From 2010-2019 this was average 24% in 28 European countries.’

‘The decline in mortality during lockdown period was not thanks to improvement of road safety.’

‘Yes, this does bring us closer to the 2010-2020 European objectives and target of -50%. However, the drastic decline in mortality during the lockdown of the population and traffic block due to the outbreak of COVID-19, was due to a forced decrease in accidents and victims, and not to virtuous behaviours or the improvement of road safety. There is still a lot of work to do.’

‘Creating innovative products and innovations, STRATEC RT has developed its patents resulting in technologies which improve road quality and safety of guardrails trough solutions such as  GroundSleeve. This is a finned metal reinforcement system at the base of the guardrail posts that greatly increases the resistance of the ground holding it in place, permitting the correct deformation of the posts without modifying the barrier. Or Raily, a road parapet fence for cities or cycle paths. You can adapt it on site, make curves or slopes without doing nearly anything other than dig a few holes in the concrete and fix it. Easy to install, without welding.’

‘Our partners and customers are based in Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, United States and Brasil. Two years ago I started working at the company. The industry was totally new to me, but I find it so interesting to be in touch with all these international customers and be able to develop solutions that improve our road safety and at the same time save lives worldwide.’

‘In my daily job it has become more important to communicate with the decision maker in order to speed up the process.’

‘This does not go without a huge challenge. Our customers are institutions, road constructors, engineers, architects, local communes or provinces who are in charge to design and maintain the roads. We offer them the technology to improve the safety of the actual guard rail systems. Our product is part of a large road infrastructure system, which has to be explained and even showed. People do not instantly understand how it works, but get excited after the first installation they are very excited about the easy installation and all the advantages a STRATEC RT solution can offer regarding road safety. In my daily job it has become more important to communicate with the decision maker in order to speed up the process.’

‘Road safety always tends to be the last part of the chain. After collapsing the Genoa bridge and the bus falling from a bridge in the countryside close to the city of Avellino, infrastructure in Italy received a lot more attention. After those accidents many restructure jobs were planned.’

‘How can we speed up the process and prevent these accidents to happen? The matter of responsibility is always a difficult question. Nobody wants to take responsibility for everyone’s lives. The Genoa bridge was caused by the lack of maintenance and the bus accident happened due to the fact that the drive shafts broke and the guardrail didn´t stop the bus from falling from the bridge. It is never just one party or one person that carries responsibility.’

‘I don’t think a road user is interested in knowing how a guardrail works.’

So who is responsible for road safety? Is it the decision makers, designers, installers and responsible technicians on site? Or should we include and inform the road user about the road safety solutions to make him become more aware of the road? Would that make the driver more careful and help speed up the process in improving road safety?

‘Can we expect a driver to know how a guardrail works? Personally, I don’t think a driver is interested in knowing how a guardrail works. I believe the best impact we can have on improving road safety is to talk to the decision makers and show them the solutions to prevent dangerous situations and serious consequences. The road user does not care about the solutions; he/she just wants us to make sure, that the road is safe and fix what must be fixed. Only in case of an accident he might be interested to know more about the safety systems.’

‘I strongly believe in green mobility and digitization.’

‘The future of mobility? I strongly believe in green mobility and digitization of the roads. With regards to green mobility, I am a big fan of the bicycle. I am happy to see a lot of improvements are being made for instance in making the infrastructure safe for cyclists. Governments have difficulties changing existing infrastructure. You see, they can’t take down the buildings, so they need to take some space from car drivers in the benefit of the bicycle.  The Raily fence would in this case be an efficient way to divide the cyclists from the car drivers due to his high resistance against impacts. Electric and hybrid vehicles with assisted driving system will be booming in 2021. Hopefully, car drivers decide to travel by bicycle instead. Luckily, this is already changing: more people are using the bicycle instead of a car or a bus. Electric vehicles will be booming in 2021. Also in Italy, thanks to the incentive offered by the government to buy an electric vehicle.’

‘Future mobility is also about smart traffic solutions. Soon a driver will be warned when a dangerous situation is on his way. I think my children will drive on roads made out of recycled material. This is already being used. They will experience smarter solutions such as connected driving. The vehicle will stop through a signal coming from a sensor when a cyclist is crossing. Or a driver who fell asleep can be informed in time to prevent it from driving into a guardrail. Stratec RT is also designing smart sensor systems which will provide the necessary information to the vehicle or in case of an accident to the closest police and road service. Even more, we will no longer be behind the wheel; it will be sensors or robots communicating. Very exiting!’

‘For 2021 our aim is obviously to grow and develop new and smarter technologies. We contribute to speeding up the mobility transition by improving peoples’ lives and we never finish thinking about new solutions to make the road a safer place.’

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