Work Begins on Safer Medians for Intercity Highways

Work Begins on Safer Medians for Intercity HighwaysWork Begins on Safer Medians for Intercity Highways

The Roads and Urban Development Ministry has plans to replace the existing highway median guardrails with Jersey barriers or Jersey walls, with the aim to reduce casualties of traffic accidents.

“Currently, replacement of the metal guardrails with safer median barriers has started on the Tehran-Karaj and Karaj-Qazvin highways,” said Deputy Minister Davood Keshavarzian.

A Jersey barrier is a modular concrete or plastic barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic. It is designed to minimize vehicle damage in cases of incidental contact while still preventing the crossover case of a head-on collision.

The increasing trend in road accidents in Iran since 2011, after a 7-year declining rate, has prompted the authorities to pay more attention to the problem of road safety.

As the number of traffic accidents reached alarming levels during 1998-2003, the relevant departments and organizations as well as traffic police, developed a comprehensive plan in 2004 to help bring down road accidents by 10% every year.

A study based on data provided by the Ministry of Roads, the Legal Medicine Organization, the Traffic Police (NAJA), and the Ministry of Health analyzed road traffic accidents between 2004 and 2011.

The death rate due to road traffic injuries statistically declined from 38 in 2004 to 31 per 100,000 in 2011. Based on the number of vehicles, the mortality rate declined from 38 to 12 cases per 10,000 vehicles from 2004 to 2011 respectively.

Despite minor variations in mortality trends of road traffic injuries according to different criteria, the annual average was 21,000 deaths which is considerable and needs serious attention, the study said, recommending modification of traffic laws, enhancement of police controls, improving transport infrastructure, holding education courses for drivers and providing optimal healthcare services.

The good news about the fall in road traffic fatalities splashed in the mass media, however, saw a reversal a few years later; in 2014 the 10% decline, which was the goal set in the comprehensive plan, changed to 6%, the Persian language weekly ‘Salamat’ reported.

During the first 8 months of the current year (ends March 19) traffic accidents rates have fallen only by 2.6% compared to the same period in the previous year.

Mahdi Riazi, a transportation expert, told IRNA that Iran is among countries with high road casualties while the number of miles Iranians travel by car each year is one-tenth that of people living in Europe.

According to UNICEF reports, each year, road traffic crashes kill nearly 28,000 people in Iran, and injure or disable 300,000 more.

  Coordination Lacking

Kamal Shoar, a university professor also said that lack of coordination between research institutions and policy and decision-makers has led to lack of an effective plan to curb road mishaps.

“Lack of centers to monitor and analyze traffic behavior as well as infrastructure constraints in every province is strongly felt. We should examine the causes that lead to road accidents in each province separately, as they vary.

“As long as the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is used to address the problem in its entirety, the problems will not be solved,” Shoar added.

“Research institutions don’t have adequate and reliable information about traffic accidents across the country. General information cannot achieve valuable scientific results; therefore detailed information should be provided to the institutions by traffic police.”

Musa Amiri, deputy traffic police chief said there should be a steep increase in cash fines as a preventive measure. “While we suggested 100% increase in 41 types of the total 171 traffic offenses and 50% increase for the remaining violations, the government only agreed to a cent percent increase in 11 violations, and 50% increase for 30 violations.”

“Although raising people’s awareness about the catastrophic consequences of risky driving is the best way to prevent traffic accidents, it is a time consuming process; we also need preventive mechanisms to enable us to respond to traffic violations expeditiously,” the officer said.