Enhancing Road Safety with Intelligent Transport System Technology

Uzbekistan is undertaking measures to increase safety on its roads. Photo: ADB
Uzbekistan is undertaking measures to increase safety on its roads. Photo: ADB

By Pawan Karki

In recent years, particularly in many developing countries, road developers have failed to give sufficient consideration to road safety features in the design and construction of highways. As a result, these roads have become more deadly.

An efficient transport system is fundamental to any country’s economic growth. As the efficiency of the transport system improves, positive economic growth can be expected, and this in turn can lead to a better quality of life and enhanced living standards.

In Uzbekistan, for instance, roads are the main means of transport, therefore safe and sustainable road infrastructure is vital for economic prosperity. At the same time, according to recent World Health Organization statistics, Uzbekistan lost over 3,600 lives on its roads in 2016 and the death toll is increasing every year.

One way to improve road safety in the country is to use intelligent transport system technology. A pilot intelligent transport system scheme, which ADB is proposing, would provide real-time information about road conditions to the drivers. This would improve the reliability and safety of the road network as well as reduce journey times and costs by providing real-time information. This essentially means that all the information related to the traffic conditions, security surveillance, slope failure or soil conditions in mountainous and rocky areas will be provided and observed in real time.

Such information can be crucial, especially in the winter period as initial hazard warnings can be displayed on public information websites and interactive maps and mobile applications. Hence, an intelligent transport system can play a pivotal role in keeping travelers informed about traffic conditions, which will substantially improve road safety and lead to a reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide (C02) emissions.

  In Uzbekistan, transport management is becoming intelligent.

To ensure the significant impact of intelligent transport system technology, a competitive market for the system’s products and services should be promoted. In addition, further steps to reduce the road accidents associated with transport expansion should be taken while safeguarding the contribution of the road network expansion to the country’s economic growth.

Such steps could include development of an intelligent transport system master plan, which would be formulated on the clearly defined principles, objectives and strategy. The plan would set the future direction of both road safety and traffic congestion management.

It must be noted that all the country’s road transport government authorities should be actively involved in developing the intelligent transport system policy document following the vision statement. For the policy implementation to succeed, the government should develop a short- to medium-term action plan in support of the vision, mission policy and strategy of intelligent transport system deployment in Uzbekistan.

As the concept is relatively new, international technical support will undoubtedly will be very important to ensure the use of the best international technologies and practices. To widely spread the knowledge about the new technology, respective manuals can be used as a guide to train the staff managing the systems in the country. Developing the systems and taking the steps mentioned above will also help effectively use public investments in the road network and in other systems required to support the growth of this sector. 

Uzbekistan will benefit tremendously from taking a systematic approach to developing an intelligent transport system. Detailed market research and early planning for intelligent transport system deployment will not only prevent unnecessary delay and avoid the risk of selecting an inappropriate technology. It will also help the government save thousands of lives on the roads.