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AustroadsNews | July 2016 

Welcome to the July edition of AustroadsNews. This newsletter provides run-down on our latest publications, links to other relevant work in Australasia, and links to upcoming seminars and conferences.

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Safe System Infrastructure Workshops

Over recent years, Austroads research has attempted to understand what a Safe System would look like in practice, including what Safe Roads and Roadsides really means.

These two-day workshops, fully funded by Austroads, will discuss the safety aspects of road infrastructure; from local roads, right through to arterials of national significance. Expert facilitators and presenters will explore the translation of the Safe System approach, enabling attendees to consider the application of the theories onto their own road networks. Attendees will return to work with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced, and will be equipped with the tools and blueprint to initiate change.

Who should attend

Transport and urban planners, traffic engineers, network managers, road designers, road safety managers, road planners, asset managers, project managers local government practitioners and consultants and those involved with or responsible for active transport or environmental management.

Feedback [from Adelaide workshops held in July]

“Good mix of topics and exercises to keep the workshop interesting and relevant to the diverse group of participants.”

“National experts who teach and learn in equal measures.”

“Workshop has given me a better understanding of applying Safe System principles.”

“Excellent presentation and cover of the Safe System approach with practical examples and methods.”

Location and dates

  • Hamilton, NZ: 25 & 26 July 2016
  • Wellington, NZ: 28 & 29 July 2016
  • Parramatta: 1 & 2 August 2016
  • Sydney CBD: 4 & 5 August 2016
  • Brisbane 1: 15 & 16 August 2016
  • Brisbane 2: 18 & 19 August 2016
  • Hobart: 29 & 30 August 2016
  • Melbourne - Kew: 1 & 2 September 2016
  • Melbourne - Sunshine: 12 & 13 September 2016
  • Melbourne - Vermont South: 15 & 16 September 2016
  • Darwin: 29 & 30 September 2016
  • Perth 1: 10 & 11 October 2016
  • Perth 2: 13 & 14 October 2016

For further information, please email:


Reducing motorcycle crash risk and severity

Austroads has published the findings of a two-year study which sought to identify infrastructure improvements to reduce motorcycle crash risk and crash severity.

The investigation included: a comprehensive literature review, crash analysis, the identification of road infrastructure elements as crash factors, the identification of effective mitigation measures and their likely safety benefit; and consultations with stakeholders.

Motorcycle crashes are a significant contributor to deaths and serious injury on our roads. In Australia in 2012, motorcycle riders made up 16% of all fatalities and 22% of serious injury casualties despite representing only a small percentage of total traffic volume.

This new report highlights the relationship between motorcycle crashes and road infrastructure, and specifically, how road infrastructure influences both the likelihood of a crash occurring or the resulting severity of a crash.

A literature review of national and international guides, publications and research papers demonstrated that guidance of road infrastructure elements that adversely affect motorcycle crash risk is available, however this is not comprehensive enough for a practitioner to make engineering decisions considering risk, cost and benefit.

A crash analysis was undertaken to demonstrate the relationship between motorcycle crashes, travel purpose period, vehicle configuration, road geometry, road layout and crash types. For comparative purposes, vehicle crashes at the same location were also analysed. This demonstrated that motorcycle crashes are effected by travel purpose period, with a majority of motorcycle crashes occurring during the week.

Road infrastructure elements considered in the study included design parameters, road surface condition, roadside hazards and overall maintenance condition.

The report highlights that motorcycles should be identified as an individual road user group and considered as a ‘design vehicle’ during road design and asset management and maintenance practices.

The report concludes that motorcycle crash risk can be managed, but requires changes in practice, in design, asset management funding and routine maintenance performance contracts. The report also recommends updates to the Austroads Guides to Road Design, Traffic Management, Road Safety and Asset Management.

It is hoped that the project will contribute to several of the objectives within the Australian National Road Safety Strategy 2011‑2020, including safety improvements on popular motorcycle routes (a specific action for the first three years of the strategy) and providing advice ahead of plans to introduce motorcycle black spot/black length programs in all jurisdictions (a ‘future’ action).


Addressing challenges of changing agricultural equipment

Austroads has published a report that investigates the policy challenges presented by the operation of agricultural vehicles on public roads in Australia and New Zealand.

The agricultural vehicle fleet encompasses a wide range of equipment with substantial variation in mass and dimensions.

Tractors and harvesters can weigh up to 30 tonnes. Harvester ‘header’ trailers can be more than 20 metres long. Tilling and seeding equipment can be up to eight metres wide and six metres high, even when folded to reduce their dimensions for on-road transport. Combinations of towed implements can be more than 40 metres long, and above 50 tonnes gross mass.

In addition to size and mass, there are a range of other safety and infrastructure considerations. Agricultural tyres are wide, and their pavement impacts are not well understood. Some implements are built to carry loads, which considerably increases their mass. The use of light vehicles to tow relatively heavier implements is commonplace, and the fitment of brakes to towed implements is rare.

The agricultural fleet is also constantly evolving, driven by economic forces and developments in technology. This requires road owners to constantly update their policies. 

The research identifies agricultural industry trends and suggests the most likely future scenario will see incremental increases in the average physical size and mass of most equipment, driven primarily by the need for greater productivity.

The project reviewed jurisdictions’ policies on agricultural vehicle mass and dimensions, identified discrepancies between the policies and the current/future agricultural fleet, and conducted technical assessments to investigate the impacts.

The report recommends that the current limitations and variations in existing policies should be addressed as a priority, not only to ensure that the risks are managed, but also to provide greater clarity and certainty to the agricultural industry. Limits and requirements should be harmonised across jurisdictions to the greatest extent possible, in a similar manner that has been achieved in the conventional heavy vehicle industry since the creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

The project’s findings have already informed discussion on a range of issues including size and mass regulations, travel restrictions and conditions, brake performance and towed mass ratios, the operation of laden agricultural vehicles, and appropriate standards on safety warning equipment.

The research findings can be used by jurisdictions to develop policies that will allow current and future agricultural equipment from local and overseas markets to be operated on public roads without undue additional risk to safety and infrastructure. The findings also allow the industry to make better informed decisions regarding future equipment purchases, and its operation within the bounds of jurisdictional policy.


Reviewing bitumen specifications and performance tests

Austroads has published a review of the bitumen specifications currently used in Australasia, USA, Europe and South Africa..

Austroads member agencies procure about $1 billion of bitumen annually to build and maintain the Australasian road network.

In Australia and New Zealand, national specifications are used for quality control of bitumens for the construction of sprayed seals and asphalt surfacings.

As the volume of bitumen being imported into New Zealand is increasing, concerns were raised in New Zealand that the traditional test methods included in their current bitumen specification were not adequately related to performance. As a result of these concerns new bitumen/binder specifications have been under development.

The main aims of this review were to provide information on the New Zealand bitumen specification which is under development and to assess whether the current Australian bitumen specification was adequately related to performance. A review was also conducted into performance‑based specification development work which has occurred in the USA, Europe and South Africa.

The main findings from the review of Australasian specifications included:

  • The Australian bitumen specification (AS 2008) uses viscosity at 60 °C as its main grading test and this has been found to be related to the rut resistance of bitumens in asphalt.
  • The elastometer consistency 6% at 60 °C test parameter has recently been included in the Australian polymer modified binder (PMB) specification (Austroads AGPT/T190) to rank the performance of PMBs at high road temperatures (e.g. 60 °C). Austroads research is currently investigating whether extensiometer force ratio tests can be used to rank the low temperature cracking performance of binders.
  • The recently published New Zealand specification for asphalt binders (NZTA M1-A) is largely based on a ‘performance-graded’ specification developed in the US. Some of the test methods included in the asphalt binder specification were also included in the draft New Zealand sprayed sealing bitumen specification. It was expected that the asphalt binder test methods would be also able to evaluate the performance of sprayed seals, based on a review of the test methods/properties and some preliminary validation studies conducted in New Zealand.
  • New Zealand currently does not have a specification developed for PMBs for sprayed sealing applications. The new test methods chosen for the draft bitumen specification could be used to test PMBs, if developed further.

The feasibility of developing a common bitumen grading system for Australia and New Zealand was also discussed as part of the review work. It was found that the current Australian bitumen specification and the proposed New Zealand bitumen specification are not immediately interchangeable. Some exploratory studies were proposed to investigate whether bitumens supplied to the Australian or New Zealand specification could be used in both countries. Research could also be conducted using the dynamic shear rheometer (DSR) to determine if this international device could be used to obtain an equivalent rut resistance parameter to elastometer consistency 6% for PMBs.

From a review of overseas specifications, the traditional binder test methods (e.g. viscosity at 60 °C, penetration at 25 °C) were generally considered reasonable for evaluating the performance of bitumens. New, more complex test methods are needed to evaluate the performance of PMBs. These test methods are still under development.


Updating the design of initial treatments for sprayed seal surfacing

Austroads has published proposed updated guidance on the design of initial treatments for sprayed seal surfacing.

The terminology and definitions used to describe applying sprayed seals directly onto a pavement basecourse have been updated, alongside the design method.

Previously there was no formal design method used for priming and primersealing. The new approach changes the primerseal name to ‘initial seal’. Both primes and initial seals are considered ‘initial treatments’, to be followed by ‘secondary treatments’ and ‘retreatments’ over the life of the pavement.

The new approach for initial seals is to use the general seal design method, but with some adjustments made to account for specific requirements expected when applying a seal directly onto a pavement basecourse. In order to unify the approach with the general seal design, binder application rates for initial treatments are to be reported as residual binder.

Individual sections in the document cater for the design of initial treatments, including:

  • primes
  • initial seals: single/single and double/double.

The design approaches detailed in this report are interim and require further validation before they are integrated into the Austroads seal design.

The information in the report supersedes Section 12 of Austroads AP-T68-06 Update of the Austroads Sprayed Seal Design Method.


Understanding heavy vehicle loading on sprayed seals

Austroads has published a report that examines the effect of heavy vehicle loading on sprayed seals, with a view to incorporating loading impacts into the Austroads sprayed seal design method.

Sprayed seal surfacings on flexible granular pavements are a major pavement type in rural Australia, comprising some 90% (by length) of all surfaced roads. One of the foremost challenges facing Australian road surfacings practitioners is the performance of sprayed seal surfacings under the increasing numbers of large heavy vehicles on major and rural transport routes.

The current Austroads sprayed seal design method includes an equivalent heavy vehicle (EHV) factor to account for the effect of heavy vehicles on sprayed seal design. The EHV factor is currently calculated using a simple equation which includes contributions from the proportions of heavy vehicles and large heavy vehicles which are obtained from a traffic count.

The main aim of this project was to ascertain whether the use of a more complicated expression to determine EHV(%), which was based on heavy vehicle ‘damage factors’ for each different vehicle class, and the proportions of vehicles of each different class, would yield improved values of EHV which could be used in seal design.

A large volume of weigh-in-motion (WIM) survey data was collected from Australian road jurisdictions which was used to calculate damage factors for each vehicle class at national and jurisdictional levels. Damage factors were calculated considering the number of axles, axle spacing and axle group mass for each vehicle class. Two different load damage exponents for sprayed seal surface texture reduction (i.e. 1.0 and 2.7) were used in the analysis. The WIM data was also used to determine the proportions of each different class of vehicle at national and jurisdiction levels.

Four seal design examples were used to compare the EHV(%) values obtained by the current simple method, and a commonly used alternative interpretation of the simple method, with those obtained using more complicated WIM-based methods (i.e. those determined with load damage exponents of 1.0 and 2.7). The variation in the heavy vehicle traffic adjustment factor (Vt) in the sprayed seal design method using the different EHV(%) calculation methods was either nil or minimal. This resulted in either nil or insignificant variations in sprayed seal design binder application rates if expected construction tolerances were considered. Considering the increased complexity of the WIM-based methods it appears that use of the current simple equation is sufficient for sprayed seal design at the present time.

There is also minimal difference to the design outcome if a practitioner uses the current simple method, or the commonly used alternative interpretation.

Large-scale changes to the heavy vehicle fleet, or further development of load damage exponent knowledge for sprayed seals, may require an equation for the EHV factor which is more complicated than the simple equation currently used. This could be checked at a later time by repeating the analysis described in this report using updated WIM survey data and/or load damage exponents.


Crowdsourcing to improve network efficiency

The NZ Transport Agency has published the results of a research project that investigated the role of crowdsourcing as an input to inform New Zealand traveller information systems.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging the services of a large and undefined group of people (the ‘crowd’) to provide information or input into a particular task or activity. In transport applications, crowdsourcing has the potential to meet information needs across all modes for a range of purposes, including the provision of traveller information, and supporting transport network operations, road safety and asset management.

The research identified the strategic, legal and policy considerations necessary to enable road controlling authorities and government agencies to lead or support crowdsourced data initiatives. These considerations include the management of privacy, safety, data collection, storage and retrieval, the use of incentives, data quality assurance and organisational barriers to new technologies and data collection methods.

The report includes recommendations regarding potential applications of crowdsourcing in the transport sector, the role of NZ Transport Agency and other road controlling authorities in supporting a crowdsourcing data ecosystem, and the technical requirements for crowdsourcing data to support traveller information systems.


Improving safety for bicycle riders on rural roads

The NZ Transport Agency has published the results of a study which aimed to determine how to cost-effectively improve safety for people who cycle on low-volume rural roads in New Zealand.

Following a literature review and Crash Analysis System consultation, two treatments were identified for on-road trial:

  • Advisory signs on passing distance 
  • A 2-1 layout (adapted to the New Zealand context). This became a shared space arrow treatment after the 2-1 component was discontinued for safety reasons.

Vehicle approach speed, vehicle passing distance, and bicycle speed were measured using an integrated suite of instrumentation on four bicycles. No significant differences were found between either of the treatments and baseline on any of these measures; however, Metrocount data indicated that there was a significant 2km/h speed reduction in the signage treatment area. The instrumentation data provided baseline measures of approach speed (76.8km/h), passing distance (2.12m) and bicycle speed (23.67km/h).

Recommendations for future work on cyclist safety on low-volume rural roads include the development of standardised share the road signage, the further adaptation of the 2-1 design to the New Zealand context, the implementation of a robust communication and engagement strategy for innovative research, and baseline data collection to better inform countermeasures.


Sydney tactile network for vision-impaired pedestrians

Sydney City Council has rolled out a network of braille and tactile signs to help visually impaired pedestrians navigate their way through the city.

More than 2,100 braille and raised-letter signs have been installed at pedestrian crossings in the City of Sydney area.

The aluminium panels feature street names and building numbers in both braille and large, raised lettering. They have been placed next to push buttons at signalised crossing areas.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT estimates there are around 100,000 people with non-correctable vision loss in NSW. That number is predicted to increase by more than 20 per cent by 2020.


BITRE Road Safety Reports

Road Deaths Australia—Monthly Bulletins
Released mid month - Latest July 2016 
This bulletin contains current counts and summaries of road crash deaths and fatal road crashes in Australia. It is produced monthly and published on BITRE's website on or around the 14th of each month. Data are sourced from the road traffic or police authorities in each jurisdiction.

Road Trauma Involving Heavy Vehicles—Annual Summaries
Released July 2016 
This report presents counts and rates of fatal crashes, fatalities and hospitalised injuries from road traffic crashes in which one or more heavy vehicles were involved.


Eurasphalt and Eurobitume Congress 2016

Videos of the Eurasphalt and Eurobitume Congress held in Prague in June are now available to view online.

Dr Robert Urquhart from ARRB presented the results of an Austroads project that examined the effects of hot storage on polymer modified binder properties. Robert was the only Australian selected to present at the congress and his presentation can be seen here. His talk generated quite a few questions from the audience which start at the 36 minute mark. 

The full set of videos from the conference can be viewed on the conference website


Austroads Bridge Conference 2017

Registrations are now open for the Austroads Bridge Conference, Australia's premier bridge conference. ABC2017 will provide great opportunities for local and international bridge engineering specialists to share experiences, innovations, achievements and knowledge.

Submissions are warmly invited for presentations at ABC2017 which address the conference theme of Bridges: Connecting Communities and one or more of the following sub themes:

  • Bridge Analysis, Design and Assessment
  • Innovative Bridge Construction
  • Bridge Technology
  • Bridge Asset Management
  • Bridge Management Strategies
  • Bridge Engineering Heritage
  • Sustainability and Life Cycle Cost
  • Codes and Standards
  • Material Technology
  • Field Applications and Case Studies
  • Lessons Learnt from Bridge Damages and Failures
  • Load Assessment
  • Feature Projects

For more information visit the website


Upcoming Workshops + Conferences

ARRB Cost Benefit Analysis in Road Transport Projects | 4 part online series starting 14 July 2016

ARRB Level 2 Bridge Inspection Workshop | 19-20 July 2016, Parramatta, NSW

Sixth International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology | 2-5 August 2016, Brisbane, Queensland

IPWEA Sustainability in Public Works Conference 2016 | 24-26 August 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

ARRB Local Area Traffic Management Workshop24-25 August 2016, Brisbane, QLD

International Transportation Geotechnics Conference 2016  | 4-7 September 2016, Guimarães, Portugal

2016 Australasian Road Safety Conference 2016 (ARSC2016) | 6-8 September 2016, Canberra, ACT

ARRB Local Area Traffic Management Workshop | 13-14 September 2016, Sydney, NSW

ARRB Basic Geometric Road Design | 15-16 September 2016, Darwin, Northern Territory  

23rd ITS World Congress Melbourne 2016 | 10-14 October 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

ARRB Level 2 Bridge Inspection Workshop | 11-12 October 2016, Brisbane, QLD

ARRB Level 1 Bridge Inspection Workshop | 25-26 October 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

ARRB Level 2 Bridge Inspection Workshop | 27-28 October 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

Construction Materials Industry Conference 2016 (CMIC16​) | 26-28 October 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

38th Australasian Transport Research Forum 16-18 November 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

27th ARRB Conference | 16-18 November 2016, Melbourne, Victoria

10th Austroads Bridge Conference: ABC2017 | 3-6 April 2017, Melbourne, Victoria