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The EU ROADEX Project 1998 - 2007 is a trans-national roads co-operation aimed at developing
ways for interactive and innovative management of low traffic volume roads throughout the
cold climate regions of the Northern Periphery Area of Europe. Its goals have been to facilitate
co-operation and research into the common problems of the Northern Periphery.
The overall objective for this research task was to increase the understanding for road user’s
health risks when riding on roads in poor condition. Better knowledge will facilitate the reduction
of the risks, by means of improved pavement management, more conscious truck, bus and ambulance
operations, and inspire to vehicle suspension systems improvements.
The report commences with generic descriptions of how safety and health can be affected by
ride vibration, how truck suspension systems isolate and amplify vibration at various frequencies,
and how pavement properties, such as cross slope, control the important forces at work.
A case study is reported from the Beaver Road 331 in northern Sweden. A heavy timber logging
truck was instrumented to measure ride vibration and direction. Measurements were taken at a
range of points (seat, cab, frame and wheels) and the results stored together with data on
speed and interior noise. Ride vibration data from repeated rides over a 280 km long round trip
from forest to coast industries was then compared with reference data on pavement condition,
scanned by a laser/inertial Profilograph. Results obtained included:
• The daily exposure to Whole-Body Vibration, the A(8)-value, for timber truck drivers riding
constantly on roads such as Rd 331 were unacceptably high, when compared to the
health and safety Action Value in Directive 2002/44/EC.
• The truck drivers were exposed to unacceptably health risks in the back when driving at
modest speed over the worst bumps, due to high spinal compression doses, Sed, as per
the ISO 2631-5 standard.
• A derived draft limit of 0.30 % for undesired variance in cross slope. This could be useful
in pavement management to prevent roll-motion and lateral forces in road vehicles.
The case study also produced valuable spin-offs in new methods for analyzing traffic safety
risks arising from incorrectly banked curves and low drainage gradients. Hospital records from
accidents at Rd 331 (mainly skid accidents) were found to match road sections with high cross
slope variance, curves with incorrect superelevation, transition sections with low drainage gradients,
and sections with high skid risk due to low/varying Macro Texture. These serious findings
call for both short and long term actions. Road agencies should use the demonstrated methods
to quickly identify hazardous sites and warn road users of them. Road repair planning and practices
should be improved, and funding for road repair should be increased.