Moving quickly and safely depends on the adequacy of transport infrastructure to users travel needs. With the continuous increase in road traffic after the war, it was necessary to plan the development of road networks adapted to vehicles and traffic conditions. Unfortunately, this development was accompanied by an increase in the number of road accidents until 1972, although at a slower rate than the increase in traffic.
To curb this increase in accidents, road safety policies have gradually been put in place, including a dedicated infrastructure component.
- In the 1970s and 1980s, these policies focused on addressing concentrations of serious accidents and resulted in the virtual elimination of "black spots".
- From the 1990s onwards, these curative actions have been implemented over entire routes.
- In the 1990s and then 2000, the road safety policy changed because the relationship to roads, but also the use of infrastructures and their management, evolved. We refer to a "forgiving road" with devices that make up for driving errors, then a "calmed road" on which drivers adapt naturally their speed to the imperfect environment available, and more recently a "sharing of the road" with other users, in particular vulnerable ones.
In the 2000s, the concept of a peaceful road appeared, the design and operation of which encouraged moderation of behavior and the sharing of space. Limits to 70 km/h are occasionally implemented on interurban roads.
The 2020 guide to the SURE approach ("safety of users on existing roads") updates the initial method for better consideration of vulnerable users, by the State and by local authorities, but does not yet include the evaluation the inherent safety of the infrastructure in addition to the study of accidents, required by the new directive
To continue to make progress, it is necessary to study and deal with accident issues in different environments: highways, country roads, or urban areas, in conjunction with road managers. In 2021, 59% of road fatalities in France occur on roads outside urban areas that are not motorways, whereas this share is less than 47% in Europe, and therefore for many of our European neighbours.