For many years, the Initiative for Safe Roads has been involved in various research projects related to the topics of road safety and traffic turnaround. Together with renowned partners from science and industry, and with support in the form of funding from the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport as part of the mFUND innovation initiative, various issues relating to research into danger spots in road traffic were investigated. Various recognized and excellent results were achieved.
For the FeGiS+ project, the Safe Roads Initiative received the“Excellence in Road SafetyAward” from the European Union in October 2022 in the category “Technology – best application of technology for road safety” on behalf of the project consortium, as well as the Jacques Barrot Audience Award in addition.
Below we present our current and past research projects in detail.
Early detection of danger spots in road traffic
The potential for danger on German roads is high, as accident statistics regularly show. High traffic volumes, stress, time pressure and increasingly extreme weather conditions are just some of the causes. This is where the FeGiS project comes in, with the aim of identifying dangers in road traffic at an early stage and reducing accident risks.
To this end, existing hazard indicators, such as official accident data, were enriched with reports from road users as part of a feasibility study. In this way, potential danger points that were not yet accident-prone could also be identified and help with early detection. In the test phase, the experiences and data in the Aachen and Bonn city regions were initially examined as examples.
The app and website gefahrenstellen.de were launched in May 2018. In this way, road users were able to quickly and easily share their own experiences of hazardous areas publicly on a platform. In total, the project was able to collect around 3,500 hazard reports for 1,500 different hazard locations in just 6 months by the end of November 2018, around two-thirds of which were in the test regions of Aachen and Bonn. The following comparison of the reports received with the official accident blackspots and known danger spots showed a clear match, but it was also possible to identify new critical areas.
Through further analysis and site visits, the reports of road users could definitely be validated as an important additional influencing factor. In addition, the advantage that a dynamic data component is generated by these continuously incoming hazard reports quickly became apparent.
Another important additional effect of the FeGiS research project is transparency and broad citizen participation. The constant feedback has illustrated how much road users appreciate the opportunity to get actively involved themselves on the subject of road safety.
In this feasibility study, the Initiative for Safe Roads collaborated with the Institute for Road Engineering at RWTH Aachen University as the network coordinator.
Early detection of road traffic hazards through smart data
By 2010, the number of traffic fatalities had decreased. Since then, however, the number of all accidents, except for the Lockdown Corona years, has been on the rise again. Increased traffic, everyday stress or distraction are certainly just some of the causes. As a result, dangerous situations are often not correctly assessed by road users or not recognized in time. Accordingly, there is still a great need for action to give new impetus to road safety work.
In the FeGiS+ research project, the approach of the successful FeGiS feasibility study was extended and the results were transferred into a digital road safety map. In this way, risks and potential dangers in road traffic can be identified at an early stage in order to avoid traffic accidents wherever possible. This can be achieved on the one hand by defusing hazardous areas (e.g. by construction) and on the other hand by providing road users with better warnings of hazardous areas so that they can adapt their behavior and driving style.
This was achieved in particular by improving the use of existing safety-related data and tapping additional relevant data sources.
In FeGiS+, a methodology was developed that analyzes official accident data from the authorities, individual hazard reports from road users, safety-critical driving maneuvers (e.g., also near-accidents) and also data from other sources, processes them in terms of content and technology, and then plays them out as smart data. By combining and analyzing all this data, danger spots can be identified at an early stage and weighted using a specially developed “danger score”, which can then be used for road safety work at a wide variety of levels.
In addition to the “Initiative for Safe Roads” as the network coordinator, the partners “Institute for Road Engineering at RWTH Aachen University”, the “German Police University – Department of Traffic Science & Traffic Psychology” as well as “Planung Transport Verkehr GmbH” (PTV) and “DTV-Verkehrsconsult GmbH” were involved in the project. The Bremen police and the city of Aachen have also joined FeGiS+ as associated partners.
Harmonizing Mobility: How Traffic Data Can Promote the Coexistence of Different Road Users and a Safe Transport Infrastructure
Current statistics show an increased risk of accidents for weaker road users. The reason for this is, on the one hand, changed mobility behavior, as cyclists and e-trekker riders increasingly find themselves in conflict with motor vehicle traffic. On the other hand, hardly any data exist that serve as indications of dangerous situations (such as so-called near-accidents). This situation affects the emergence of new approaches to be able to give fact-based proposals for a safe transport infrastructure.
The research project “HarMobi” aims to provide a new evaluation basis for the analysis of conflicts between different road users. The idea is to use data from sensors from the various means of transport, i.e. from bicycles, e-scooters or cars, and to analyze this data anonymously. In this way, the behavior of road users as well as the influence of the surrounding infrastructure can be researched.
Resulting patterns and anomalies, especially regarding critical situations between different road users, will be extracted into a learning system to better assess their safety implications for future traffic developments and planning.
In the HarMobi research project, a new methodology is being developed for registering safety-critical events between the road users involved. By overlaying this information with data on route selection and infrastructure as well as other facts relevant to traffic safety, conflicts and possible influencing variables are analyzed.
The project will be implemented in the focus region of Aachen, but at the same time the general validity of the findings will be investigated and applied in other regions on a test basis.
Project coordinator is RWTH Aachen University (Institute of Road Engineering; Chair of Computer Science i11). In addition to the Safe Streets Initiative, Velocity Mobility GmbH and Hannover Medical School (MHH); Traffic Accident Research, are also involved. In addition, a network of associated partners is involved in research for HarMobi in various ways: ASEAG Stadtwerke Aachen, Bridgestone Mobility Solutions, HUK-Coburg Versicherung, City of Königs Wusterhausen, City of Aachen, Chemnitz University of Technology, Institute of Psychology, Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. (VCD), VOI Technology Germany.
List of previous partners in research projects of the Safe Roads Initiative
RWTH Aachen University (Institute of Road Engineering; Chair of Computer Science i11), Aachen
German Police University, Münster
PTV Planung Transport Verkehr GmbH, Karlsruhe
DTV Verkehrsconsult GmbH, Aachen
Velocity Mobility GmbH, Aachen
Hanover Medical School; Traffic Accident Research