Over the next few years, ASECAP intends to concentrate on the following main objectives:
Improving the service to the user
In return for the toll paid, the road user is entitled to the best possible service offered by the concession holding companies, by whom he is regarded primarily as a customer.
With this in mind, the motorways companies' objectives are twofold :
• To keep traffic flowing in all situations (as regards weather, etc.) in appropriate safety and driving conditions. The companies do this with the support of their surveillance patrols (who intervene in case of accidents) and their maintenance teams for salting, snow clearance, road maintenance, and so on);
• To offer a variety of services aimed at the comfort and safety of the user:
- Rest areas at appropriate intervals. Surrounded by grass and trees, these areas are provided with lavatories and, most often, with picnic tables and playgrounds for children;
- Service areas at appropriate intervals. These offer lavatories with baby changing tables, service stations and shops, restaurants and sometimes hotels, telephones, fax machines and so on. Certain service areas are designed specifically for trucks and have rest rooms, TV, showers, etc.;
- A repair service that the user can contact from emergency telephones along the motorway. The repairers can reach the driver within 20 minutes; the price is calculated on the basis of a guaranteed flat rate tariff, with no surprises for the client;
- The provision of road information by means of variable message sign and, on certain roads, FM motorway radio stations;
- Various means of paying the tolls: cash, foreign currency, credit cards,"hands free" electronic payment.
In this context, ASECAP will concentrate its efforts on three main priorities:
- Providing a high level of service throughout the entire European Toll Motorway Network;
- Developing and refining in-car information facilities in order to inform the driver, practically continuously and in real-time, about traffic conditions;
- Implementing Electronic Tolling interoperability through the different European networks, in accordance with Commission Decision 2009/750/EC on the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS).
The interoperability of the Electronic Fee Collection was the aim of four important ASECAP projects, co-financed by the European Commission, the so-called CESARE projects (Common EFC System for an ASECAP Road Tolling Europen System).
Motorways are four times safer than ordinary roads. The concession holding companies guarantee safety and a maximum service to the users in return for the tolls they pay.
Over the last 25 years, improvements to safety systems have reduced the number and seriousness of accidents:
- Installation of crash barriers in the central reservation and to the right of the carriageway;
- Edge marking (painted lines, delineators, etc.) enhancing the visibility and clarity of the carriageway;
- Protuberant paintings, visible at night in rainy weather, warning of exits;
- Draining pavements, eliminating aquaplaning and spray, and also reducing surface noise by 4 to 5 db.
Thanks to the patrols who keep the roads under surveillance around the clock, and the emergency telephones located every 2 km, incidents are now reported within 4 minutes.
All these endeavors have reduced significantly the rate of fatal accidents on ASECAP’s motorways, where in fact the EU objective of halving the number of road deaths between 2001 and 2010 has been achieved and even surpassed.
Further progress can be expected in terms of:
- Improvements in safety equipment;
- Changes in user behaviour, partly due to the awareness campaigns regularly carried out by the concession holding companies;
- Dealing with incidents more quickly, involving facilities that make use of the latest technology and intelligent systems whose deployment remains insufficient.
Protecting the environment
Like other forms of infrastructure (airports, high speed train, and so on) motorways have an impact on the surrounding environment, mostly with regard to noise, air and water pollution, and so on.
While the automobile industry, for its part, undertakes action to reduce pollutant emissions in particular, the concession holding companies for their part monitor the situation on their networks and take the necessary measures accordingly, in order to protect the environment more effectively.
ASECAP has been working on this major issue and it will continue to do so, namely in the following fields:
- Water: Sealed sedimentation tanks now make it possible to control the risk of pollution to groundwater and watercourses;
- Noise: Draining pavements and noise screens, together with the introduction of more stringent town planning rules, help reduce the nuisance;
- Fauna, flora and biotopes: The companies are eliminating the divisive effects of motorways with, for example, special crossings for game and other mammals;
- Insertion in the landscape: From the initial impact studies to the opening of the road, the engineers and landscape designers of the concession holding companies now work together in order to integrate the motorway into the surrounding countryside without damaging it and, as far as possible, showing it in its best light. Using special techniques for treating "natural" areas, they now know how to sustain the biodiversity of flora on motorway embankments. Similarly they also know how to protect and even reconstitute wetlands.