Published on March 16, 2017

An eye on the road

Interview with Umberto Guidoni, Secretary General of the ANIA Foundation

In July, Aci and Istat released the definitive data on road accidents in 2016. What do you think about this?

A positive factor is the number of casualties, which decreased again in 2016 after the worrying trend increase of the previous year. Road casualties added up to 3,283, a 4.2% decrease compared to 2015 and, most of all, a 20% decrease compared to 2010. These figures tell us that we are on the right track, but we should not lower our guard, since the number of injuries and accidents has been on the rise again, after several years. With regard to vulnerable road users, there were fewer casualties among pedestrians and motorcyclists, but more among cyclists.

The number of heavy transport- related casualties has also dropped. What can you tell us about this sector?

The Polizia Stradale’s provisional data had already given positive indications, which were then confirmed by the Aci / Istat report. Looking at the heavy truck segment, there was a 13% decrease in casualties. It should be remembered, in this context, that about half of all work-related casualties happen on the road, so much so that road accidents are the main cause of occupational fatalities.

Road safety is also a key element for freight transport companies. What is the current situation?

Companies tend to disregard the risk of road traffic accidents, because they think that the variable nature of factors such as infrastructure, traffic, vehicles, human behavior, etc. is difficult to control. These variables help cause a more frequent driver misbehavior. Distraction, fatigue, stress, sleepiness, incorrect nutrition, altered psychophysical condition due to alcohol or drugs: all these elements can lead to poor reaction times. What is more, in recent years, a new criticality has emerged: driver distraction caused by technological devices such as smartphones, tablets and satellite navigators, which can also be used while driving. It is essential to devise specific initiatives, targeted at the companies operating in this sector.

How can we effectively intervene in order to reduce risk in the freight transport sector, consequently limiting work-related accidents?

In the past, the ANIA Foundation has proposed a business training model aimed at increasing the perception of road risk while, at the same time, providing useful information to those that work with vehicles. To demonstrate the validity of this concept, ANIA has been running, for about a decade, the project “Sicurezza nel trasporto pesante” (heavy transport safety), a true best practice model for company fleets at risk. The project has provided for a number of specific measures for transport companies, in the area of road risk prevention and management. Especially worth mentioning are: specific training for drivers; improved work organization to reduce risk factors; a stricter enforcement of rules with regard to driving times and rest periods for drivers, vehicle maintenance as well as cargo loading and transport. The model developed over the years has had an actual impact on road safety, as can be inferred from the data collected on a sample of heavy trucks (weighing over 40 tonnes) belonging to 55 road transport companies located throughout the national territory, showing a reduction in the accidents/vehicles frequency and in the general number of accidents.

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