Assessment of road safety parameters in Kigali

Increase in vehicular population has led to increase in road crashes. This is particularly very evident in low- and middle-income countries. Rwanda is no exception to this problem. While various factors influence the occurrence of a crash, it is argued that road design can make roads either safe or unsafe to drive. This research examines geometric parameters of roads in the City of Kigali, with emphasis on checking their safety parameters in comparison with design standards of AASHTO 2011.

The case study of this research was „KN 123 St‟, a two-lane asphalt road located in the center of the City of Kigali. Road parameters like lane widths, curve radii, super-elevation, sight distances and slope grades were examined. The research found various areas of improvement, inconsistencies and non-conformities.

The findings established a clear relationship between ignored safety parameters during design and construction, and road crashes that happened on specifically identified hazardous spots. For instance, there is an extreme abrupt change in lane widths over the whole length at a rate of 74%. Unsafe sharp curves make half of all evaluated horizontal curves. Curves with the smallest radii have already recorded many crashes.

The study found that super-elevation values have been inadequately computed, designed, and constructed with an average variance of 5%. About 80% of assessed vertical curves had insufficient stopping sight distance and 90% of headlight sight distance likewise. Apart from geometric parameters, high operating speeds of car drivers and motorcyclists, lack of shoulders, lack of zebra crossings and left sidewalk were found as extra causes of traffic injuries.

While widening of the road could potentially help meet most safety parameters, it is arguably expensive and unrealistic. Therefore, this study recommends speed governance, forgiving roadside features, traffic signalization, and road markings as tools to alert drivers where most crash-prone areas are.

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