In recent decades, Portugal has made major strides in reducing the number of road fatalities. 20 years ago Portugal had more than double of the European Union (EU) average of road fatalities per million inhabitants and today this difference has decreased by 92%, and we are now almost aligned with the EU average.

One of the factors that contributed most to these results was the strong investment made in the last 20 years in road infrastructures, namely in more than 3.200 km of roads with higher quality and safety, such as motorways, which allowed the increase in the execution of the National Road Plan, from 23 % to 74%.

According to the OECD database over the last two decades Portugal has invested around 24 billion euros in road infrastructure. These investments, together with an integrated road safety policy, had an important contribution on saving more than 18.000 lives and more than 50 billion euros in economic and social costs. This is clearly a benefit to the country and to the society: the savings resulting from the reduction in roads accidents is more than twice the cost of the road infrastructures investments.

As a result of these infrastructure investments, Portugal has now a road network with more quality, with more safety and with higher use, which allows the positioning of the road infrastructure as competitive advantage and a strategic asset for the future and for the new demands on mobility with electric, autonomous, connected and shared-used vehicles.

Despite the positive results the road fatalities in 2017 reversed the downward trend of the recent decades. There is still much work to be done and the Safe System approach,

that is based, among other things, on the acceptance of human error and in recognition that although accidents cannot be completely avoided, it is not acceptable for anyone to die or be seriously injured as a result of a road accident, is the way.

Road safety has been one of the major priorities in Portugal, and everyone has the right to use the road without the risk of getting involved in an accident that could result in serious or fatal injuries.

This International Conference on Road Safety: A commitment to the present and a challenge for the future, organized by the Portuguese Permanent Commission (CNPE) of the World Road Association and by the World Road Association (AIPCR), together with Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) and Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT) will bring together stakeholders at local and national level as well as national and international experts working on road safety that will share their experiences and results, and will address not only the Safe System approach and road safety policies , but also the role of the infrastructure and how the future trends in mobility and technology will impact on Road Safety.

About PIARC Program of International Conferences

The World Road Association (PIARC - Permanent International Association of Road Congresses) is a politically neutral and non-profit making association founded in 1909 that has members (Governments, Regional Authorities, Collective and Personal Members) in more than 140 countries. The organization is supported by National Committees in 38 countries, including Portugal.

PIARC is one of the world leader in the exchange of knowledge on roads and road transport policy and practices within an integrated sustainable transport context, organising international forums, disseminating best practice and promoting efficient tools for decision making in the road transport field.

In this connection PIARC:

  • creates and coordinates Technical Committees,
  • organizes a quadrennial World Road Congress, a quadrennial Winter Road Congress and various technical seminars and conferences
  • and publishes a large number of documents including a quarterly magazine ("Routes/Roads")

The PIARC Road Safety Manual

The Road Safety Manual is a comprehensive resource freely available online (https://roadsafety.piarc.org) building on the broad range of knowledge and experience provided by PIARC experts. It includes new thinking on road safety and offers a clear argument on why adopting a Safe System approach is crucial for worldwide countries.

The Safe System approach aims for a more forgiving road system that takes human fallibility and vulnerability into account. Under the Safe System approach, everyone (public agencies, automobile manufacturers, road users, enforcement officials, and others) must share the responsibility for road safety outcomes. On April 15, 2016, the UN General Assembly and its Member States adopted the resolution A/70/L.44 on "improving global road safety". This resolution reaffirms adoption and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals even in the field of road safety, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The mentioned A/70/L.44 resolution endorses the PIARC Road Safety Manual as "an important international effort on road safety to offer guidance to officials at various levels on measures that can enhance the safety of road infrastructure". Such an institutional acknowledgment does not only draw attention to the Manual but also becomes a demanding task for all international PIARC experts who deal with this subject.

Technical Committee TC C.1: National Road Safety Policies and Programs

PIARC Technical Committee TC C.1 (National Road Safety Policies and Programs) deals with Road Safety Policies and Programs. The goal of this PIARC team, where Portugal is represented by Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) is to promote the safety and efficiency of road transport, including the movement of people and goods on the network, while effectively and widely promulgating knowledge of all aspects of road safety and encouraging implementation of positive practices.

This Technical Committee (TC.C1) examines the policies and strategies underpinning safety investment decision making and strategies used to apply systematic road safety improvements to roads infrastructure. This work will be incorporated into the Road Safety Manual. This TC.C1 will also pursue efforts to disseminate and support the application of measures recommended in the Road Safety Manual, namely through conferences and workshops.