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Road design

Logo UHasselt Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


We often misjudge a traffic situation. We take a turn too wide or too fast. We think we have sufficient time to turn right onto a main road, but then get surprised by the heavy traffic. Human errors cause almost 90% of all road crashes. Within the research programme 'human-centered road design', we aim to answer the following question: how can roads be designed in such a way that they can be used unequivocally and safely by all road users? In other words: which road design prevents serious or lethal injuries?

The risk of human error as a central starting point

We strongly focus on self-explaining roads and forgiving roads from the perspective of a 'Safe System approach'. This approach places the road user, with all his possibilities and limitations, central in the design of a safe transport system. So, people can make mistakes, but a clear road design should be able to prevent this. If accidents still occur, the design needs to ensure that serious or lethal injuries are prevented.

Studying, in virtual and real life conditions, how road users operate

We both test a design in advance (e.g. testing road safety and circulation of road traffic) and evaluate the effectiveness of existing designs (e.g. road safety effects of speed-reducing measures). How does the road user react to (changes in) road design? Are improvements necessary? We use the driving simulator to test a road design in advance and evaluate (changes in) existing road designs by carrying out a behavioural and conflict observation (in real life conditions). In this research programme, we extensively use modern techniques such as camera-based observation, eye-tracking, (3D)-visualization, simulation and behavioural modelling to better understand the complex interaction between man, machine and environment.

Projects and realisations

Efficient traffic signs towards the new IKEA-plant in Hasselt

IKEA recently opened a new store in Hasselt. Its arrival worried quite some local residents and commuters. The Sint-Truidersteenweg (N80) and the Hasselt Ring struggled for years with traffic jams, additional traffic would only aggravate the traffic disruption. AWV Limburg asked IMOB to test the new signalling that needs to let the traffic circulate smoothly towards the new IKEA plant. Read more >

Impact of illuminated traffic signs on road safety examined

As illuminated traffic signs - displaying moving messages - catch the eye immediately, more and more companies and traders bet on that medium. Now that they pop up more frequently on Flemish roads, the Agency for Roads and Traffic (AWV) questions its impact on road safety. IMOB sorted it out. Read more >

Well signposted calamity routes on the Cloverleaf in Lummen

Flanders developed a system of calamities routes, the so-called emergency routes, to ensure that drivers still reach their destination despite severe traffic disruption. The government provided four alternative routes on the Cloverleaf in Lummen. Since the junction was redesigned recently, IMOB tested by order of Roads and Traffic Limburg wether the routes are still clearly marked. Read more >

Wind turbines don’t cause dangerous traffic situations

In 2014, the new wind farm Hartel 2 was built next to the national road N15 in Rotterdam. As the wind turbines stand closer to the edge of the road than imposed by the legal regulations and the rotor blades cross the road at particular wind directions, the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works had some doubts about the road safety of the drivers. IMOB investigated it. Read more >

Cyclists on bus lanes: a safe idea?

Sharing is (s)caring. Since 2002, cyclists are allowed on bus lanes. The different speed profile of cyclists and buses worries the government. Cyclists retain a slow, constant speed, while buses alternately accelerate and stop. The impact of shared bus lanes on road safety of cyclists was not examined sofar, neither in Flanders nor abroad. IMOB examined the theme. Read more >

Model scheme for signage during road works evaluated 

Road works signs are important to ensure smooth traffic circulation. The Agency for Roads and Traffics (AWV) drew up standard signage schemes: guidelines for the placement of road signs. IMOB analysed and evaluated one of those signage schemes for AWV. Is the alternative route clearly marked? Is the information on the traffic signs (e.g. speed limit) unambiguous and applicable? Read more >

Congestion warning dynamic traffic signs: an ideal design

We queue innumerable hours on an annual basis. When possible, the Flemish traffic centre alerts drivers for congestion using dynamic traffic signs. Currently, several variants of congestion warning messages are used. The Flemish traffic centre asked IMOB to compare them and to identify the most efficient one. Read more >