There are 7 critical success factors
Road users, travelling in cars, buses and trucks, are being caught up in bigger traffic jams, with greater, unexpected traffic delays.
Governments are crying poor as they dont have the budget for any big fixes.
What can we do to help this problem?
Lessons from Road Safety
Best practice in road safety policy deployment has resulted in sustained improvements, particularly since the mid 1990’s.
The key to the road safety success has been the implementation of a management system that comprises a systematic, sustained and accountable response to problems. It treats road safety as a ‘production process’ – institutional management, with a focus on developing and implementing initiatives that produce strong results, which are subsequently evaluated and adjustments made.
The critical success factors cover seven institutional functions: results focus; coordination; policy; resourcing; promotion; evaluation; and knowledge transfer.
Do these institutional functions translate to managing traffic operations? I believe so.
Effective traffic operations requires shared multi-agency responsibility for results, with a lead agency adopting a guiding, encouraging and catalytic role. So what are these critical success factors?
1. Results focus
Having an agreed strategy that establishes an ambition to improve, and a clear and an accountable focus on results is the first key to success. The strategic orientation drives a series of progressive actions and a performance framework to monitor expected results.
To be able to develop a strategic direction requires consensus on the key problem areas – those where the greatest impact can be achieved with least effort – in consultation with key partners and develop initiatives that have the potential to achieve improvements. These initiatives need to be challenging but achievable, cost-effective and importantly, acceptable to the public.
The lead agency also needs to identify and build mechanisms to ensure partner and key stakeholder accountability for results, such as through a memorandum of understanding.
For example targetting the road network which has the highest concentration of high risk problems, such as heavy vehicle incidents causing long delays, is a useful place to start. Something like 20% of the road network probably accounts for 80% of the traffic problems, so this should be the first focus of activity to get the best return on resources invested.
The orchestration and alignment of deliverables by key partners is the second key of success.
This involves having accountable, decision-making working arrangements at two levels (management and operations) between government agencies and key delivery partners, such as traffic agencies, police, emergency services, incident response and towing services and private toll road operators.
Roles and responsibilities of the key agencies need to be set out in agreements, preferably formal.
Establishing the policy parameters that outline the legitimate bounds of key partners, including responsibilities and accountabilities is the third key to success.
Due consideration again needs to be given to cost effectiveness, practicality and public acceptability.
This aspect includes developing and updating necessary legislation and regulation requirements and cooperative working processes, to provide the basis for effective traffic operation, taking into account innovative international developments.
Financing of initiatives on a sustainable basis using accepted resource allocation processes to achieve the desired results is the next success factor. This means building strong business cases based on sound economic appraisal to ensure cost-effectiveness based on research. Documenting the outcomes from demonstration pilot programs is useful here.
Establishing an ongoing program of funding, including consideration of dedicated funding sources is also recommended.
Sustained communication, both with key delivery partners and government, and also with the travelling public is vital to ensure shared responsibility for achieving the desired results.
Fostering key stakeholder professionals involvement in continuing education events, from the traffic, police, emergency services and insurance industries, among others, is one means of generating a shared understanding and vision of success.
Monitoring of performance, in the form of systematic and ongoing measurement of key outputs and outcomes against agreed measures and targets, is needed to achieve the desired focus on results. This should be published at regular intervals in terms of cost to the community – either socio-economic cost, lost time due to delay and/or variability in the reliability of travel times.
Evaluation of key initiatives, such as before and after studies, assessing what was achieved against the proposal, and at what cost, provides the basis for future investments and for other jurisdictions.
7. Knowledge transfer
Transfer of research and experience is key to ongoing development in capability and contributes to improved efficiency and effectiveness.
This includes developing an agreed research program with partners and other jurisdictions, commissioning research, monitoring international developments and promoting the findings.
It also includes providing training and knowledge transfer activities, developing good practice guidelines and undertaking demonstration projects to test new concepts.
Building sustainable mobility and safety management capacity requires a long-term approach, with priority activities undertaken to an agreed program.
What do you think are the key success factors needed to go beyond good practice and achieve best practice?
Based on an article written for Thinking Highways