“Vision Zero” is at the core of road safety work in Sweden and Norway since the mid-1990’s. The concept is to achieve a state where no one would be seriously injured or killed in traffic.
Since humans can always make mistakes, it is impossible to prevent traffic accidents entirely. However, it is considered possible to alleviate their consequences, by making roads and vehicles safer and forgiving of errors.
In Norway, this campaign resulted in the inclusion of motorcycle characteristics in the government’s infrastructure guidelines; taking the form of Handbook 245: Motorcycle Safety, a motorcycle guide for highway engineers, first published in 2004. It features guidelines for the design and operation of roads and traffic systems, with a focus on motorcycle safety. It is notably used for road safety audits centered on motorcycle safety.
In practice, the motorcycle safety audit checklist includes elements such as pavement conditions, position of guardrails and whether they are strictly necessary, lighting and position of signage, visibility, clearing of obstacles, and motorcyclist-specific signage. It also encourages engineers to seek alternative solutions to guardrails wherever possible, including, but not limited to: embankments, side slopes for deceleration of fallen motorcyclists, or use of soft topsoil to cover rocks.
Applying these principles on the field is Highway 32 near Oslo, a popular motorcyclist road. It underwent renovations which turned it into the first Vision Zero-compliant road in the world, and was inaugurated by the president of the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations in 2008.
Picture: Guardrail terminals present sharp edges and a low contact surface, face traffic directly and are located very close to the roadway. Fitting them with a protective cover reduce the risk of injury on impact.
Since the opening of the road in May 2008, there has not been a single serious motorcycle accident on this stretch of Highway 32. The safety audit concluded that the actions taken have proven beneficial to all road users.