SINA is an Italian corporation operating in the international world of infrastructure for over fifty years. For several years he has been designing and disseminating road safety campaigns to raise awareness of the risks of unaware driving. We met the scientific coordinator, dr. Roberto Arditi MSE.
Mr. Arditi, please introduce us to the world of SINA and its historic commitment to the road safety.
Engineering company, now part of the Gavio Group, SINA was incorporated in 1962 with the mission of designing and opening to operation a sensible part of those infrastructures that contributed to the “Italian economic miracle” and which, still today, are a qualifying part of the main national Italian road network. The origin of the corporation is still marked in the name, which represents the acronym of “Società Nazionale Iniziative Autostradali” (National Corporation for Motorway Endeavours). The nascent phase was followed by a great commitment to monitor the works, to the upgrading toward stricter environmental standards and, as you mentioned, to the improvement of traffic safety. In this context, studies, projects and interventions for safety have been developed, articulated since the 1960s and have affected a wide spectrum of needs, including the definition of safer roads, circulation in tunnels, the design of new generation for safety barriers.
Over time, SINA experts have developed techniques, knowledge and methodologies, observing that well-built and efficient roads are a necessary condition for ensuring traffic safety. Nonetheless, the human factor and human behaviour are tragically decisive and negatively affecting the road safety statistics. From that observation, SINA experts and technicians reserved attention at human factor, attention to the operation, with the commitment of SINA on a wide spectrum of activities ranging from emergency management procedures, to the training of emergency staff. Up to the present day in which the SINA quality system certification has been extended to “studies and assessments for safe management” thanks to software methodologies and tools conceived by SINA technicians.
Finally the fact that you also recalled: the ASTM group promotes Autostradafacendo, a road safety campaign that reserves its core to the human behaviour, thus aiming at informing and stigmatizing risk behaviours and those behaviours that, on the other hand, improve safety. Right here there is room for collaboration and common vision with driving schools, which are traditionally and institutionally committed to promote competent and informed drivers. In recent years, many initiatives have been carried out by Autostradafacendo: in schools, involving teachers and young people, in events, a large number of leaflets, booklets, games have been created, populating Autostradafacendo.it website with all the contents of the campaign and with hundreds and hundreds of articles concerning the topic of road safety. And all this, according to an ethical and sustainability approach, as well as according to the guidelines given by the European authorities who have recognized that the road user is the first link in the road safety chain and for this reason, road education, training and the application of laws are essential.
We met a few years ago in Geneva, during a working session of the UN-ECE, where you performed an interesting presentation on ITS activities, i.e. the European platform for intelligent transport systems in which European infrastructure authorities and operators collaborate. From there a series of meetings up to the UNASCA international event on training, held in Brussels last January. How do you see the future of driving training in Italy / Europe? Are current models still in use?
The last period has showed the extreme fragility of the educational sector, when the pandemic had to be faced. Digital lessons may not have reached all scholars in the same way. Not everyone was able to access, having adequate devices, connections and skills: it can certainly be read as a lack of technology or, if you prefer to see the half full glass, we can say that the current technology has allowed a part of the school population to perform a kind of learning that would not have been possible, only ten years ago. The new information and communication technologies are profoundly changing the human society: each sector is changing to adapt and exploit the new technological possibilities. Some sectors are even overwhelmed by the change.
The motorway sector itself is involved in profound changes. The European ITS Platform is the joint program of authorities and operators of the trans-European road network, a program which aims at intelligent and efficient mobility, thanks to large-scale technological deployment in trans-European corridors.
The European Commission, Member States and operators are committed to a harmonized development of intelligent transport systems which, by exploiting the potential of new technologies, provide innovative services for the various transport modes and allow users to be better informed, to use transport networks in a safer, more coordinated and “smarter” way. In recent years, we have been observing that vehicles also become increasingly intelligent: the driver therefore needs to have greater skills and ethical guidelines that allow him to correctly manage the complexity of the system with a view to “zero vision”. For me it is a déjà-vu: when I was a student, my thesis dealt with automated control in flight systems. Today the techniques that were then called fly-by-wire are now applied to the vehicle. Will we also have to change the driver training, how did that of the drivers change?
Together with EFA we are launching a memorandum of understanding for the development of some activities relating to road safety. Can you tell us what it is about?
I think this protocol can be beneficial for the community of road users: the experience of EFA experts will certainly allow to improve the contents of Autostradafacendo as per road safety, EFA could be an important stakeholder for the European ITS platform.
Vice versa, the operating experience of the ASTM group can contribute to improving the quality of the training offer with ideas that come from the reality of the great national road network. Joint initiatives are planned in the areas of road education, communication, European programs, information and accident prevention aimed, in particular, at young people, professional users and aimed at improving safety levels on Italian roads and reducing accidents.