Future orientations

Over the next years and decades, ASECAP members will remain strongly committed to working towards a carbon-free, safe and smart mobility:

Climate Change Challenges and Environment Protection

ASECAP members have a long-standing commitment to the environment and the complex ecosystem we all live in. The key challenge of finding a compromise between the growing need for mobility and the fundamental responsibility of protecting biodiversity and natural environment is a crucial priority for ASECAP.

Towards carbon-free transport to answer climate change challenges
Nobody can ignore the current severe climate change consequences the European countries and the other regions of the planet are facing: overfloods, tsunamis, storms, tornados, hurricanes, forest fires…taking lives and causing tremendous economic, financial and societal damage. These climatic phenomena will increase if we do not change collectively our behavior in our daily lives. The countdown has started and, although this is not yet too late to reverse the trend, we must act now to sharply reduce CO2 emissions. These climatic phenomena will worsen and become more frequent if we do not change collectively our behavior in our daily lives.

At EU level, the commitment of toll road infrastructure operators will be to fulfil the targets of the EU Green Deal which includes the following milestones:

  • a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of at least 55% by 2030 and of 90% by 2050.
  • provide the possibility to welcome zero-emission cars, new vans, and heavy-duty vehicles according to the planning set by the policymaker by installing charging and fuelling points at regular intervals on major motorways.

The  ASECAP Sustainability Report, published in November 2022  illustrates how that the toll motorway is already undertaking strong actions to reach the target of making their infrastructure carbon-free. The projects, initiatives and KPI data outlined in the report will show that the toll motorway sector is – and will remain – a key partner that is already strongly committed to working towards a carbon-free, safe and smart mobility in order to align with the EU Green Deal target to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, and with the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Even if the challenge ahead - a carbon-free mobility on their motorway network by 2050 – is a huge one that will imply massive investments to:

  • Optimize the entire transport system. 
  • Supporting multimodal approaches and answer issues of mobility by unfolding new services and a better use of the infrastructure (urban accesses, dedicated lanes for mass public transport, carpooling,      multimodal hubs…) where needs are in demand and the least satisfied, especially in important metropolitan area with large cities.
  • Equip the structuring road network so as to transform it into an infrastructure able to dialog with vehicles and influence CO2 emission.
  • Adapt and develop pricing measures in urban area to reduce congestion.
  • Enhance traffic regulation to avoid congestion and minimize pollution emissions. This measure has been widely deployed on some motorway and need to be extended.
  • Welcome and privilege new motorizations (electric vehicles, etc.).
  • Develop robust alternative fuel network (electrical fast charging stations, appH2-infrastructure for heavy vehicles).
  • Welcome and develop strategies and concepts to use the road network itself for the generation of renewable energy.
  • Take concrete measures on constructions, maintenance and daily operations to reduce the CO2 generated by our companies (for example use recycling concrete to renew pavement, …

Responsible management of the environment
Toll road operators have always been committed to the protection of the environment in view of the proximity of their motorways to natural landscapes and of their impact on the surrounding environment. Actions taken by motorway operators are developed throughout the three successive phases of the life of a motorway: its design, its construction and finally its operation/ maintenance and reinvestments. During these different phases, the environmental aspects lie always at the core of every single activity.

Initially, the issues confronting road operators have always been the protection of water resources and the reduction of noise pollution. Significant remedial responses have been made and efforts have never wavered. Insertion into the countryside, enhancement of the landscape, preservation of biodiversity and wild animals have become crucial challenges to which satisfactory solutions have been proposed and adopted (e.g., noise fences; noise-reducing road surfaces; infrastructure dedicated to fauna crossing only, such as under/upper/over passes culverts, and other infrastructures allowing animal crossings such as tunnels, bridges and viaducts).

Furthermore, motorway construction has increasingly involved operations to rehabilitate deteriorated natural or urban sites, going even as far as creating extensive areas offering a new terrain of expression for biodiversity. Important environmental upgrading programs aiming to rebuild old networks up to modern environmental standards (water, noise, biodiversity protection in compliance with regulations currently in force) have all been financed through tolls.

But to tackle the already visible and severe climate change consequences, toll road operators have the duty to intensify their actions in view of preserving landscapes, ecosystems, fauna and biodiversity, and to find new innovative solutions to develop low carbon / carbon free motorways, in full compliance with EU environmental standards and programs.

In order to achieve a carbon-free mobility and therefore improve air quality, motorway operators have to pursue and strengthen their efforts to sharply reduce their greenhouse emissions through the wide and balanced deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure – namely electric and hydrogen charging stations - along their networks, which requires huge investments, both public and private. To reduce their carbon footprint, they are also committed to investing in green mobility (replacement of existing fleets with low- and zero-emission vehicles), improving the energy performance of their buildings, being supplied with renewable energy (solar and wind energy; green electricity; green gas…) they produce themselves or purchase, and recycling their waste from operations & routine maintenance and road construction & heavy maintenance.

In addition to the legislative proposals that have been tabled as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, several other core EU programmes and pieces of legislation will (continue to) guide and shape the work of the toll road operators for the years to come and the next decade, including the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the 8th EU Environment Action Programme (EAP) to 2030, the EU legislation on recycling/reuse of batteries, waste, packaging, etc. All these legislative tools will greatly help turn the motorway sector into a fully sustainable sector.

Photo credit (from top to bottom):
© Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A. / AISCAT
© ASFA Photothèques sociétés d’autoroutes-DR

Infrastructure Safety: Working towards Road Safety Vision Zero objective


The European Commission is currently implementing its EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 – next steps towards ‘Vision Zero’, its long-term strategic goal to get close to zero fatalities and zero serious injuries on EU roads by 2050 (Vision Zero). As an intermediate step, its medium-term objective is to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50 % by 2030, as already enshrined in the 2017 Valletta Declaration on Road Safety. The framework includes a system monitoring fatalities and serious injuries at EU level based on 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) with timed targets
for the reduction of casualties and serious injuries.

Road safety is the first priority of the toll road operators. The social contract of motorway companies is to safeguard the safety of road users and their workers first and also to guarantee congestion-free traffic on their network. The motorway infrastructures are designed and built with highest quality and technological standards which make them the safest infrastructure than any other road infrastructure.

Nevertheless, the ambition of the toll motorway sector is to reach the objective set by the European Commission: Vision Zero. To reach this target, the toll road operators represented in ASECAP already put in place, on a daily basis, actions aimed at ensuring high road safety standards for the users, therefore fulfilling the EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 and implementing directly, at the same time, the EU Directive on road safety infrastructure management along the TEN-T road network.

Key actions performed by toll road operators to safeguard road safety
Road safety is the result of the efficient and close interaction between the infrastructure, the vehicle and the driver. A motorway is an infrastructure specially designed and built according to the highest quality and technological standards, in order to guarantee to all drivers 24/7 the best safety conditions, high levels of service and driving comfort in all weather conditions. To make the network safe, the maintenance and operation is done all year long by patrollers 24 hours a day and operators managing the traffic control centres in order to make appropriate road management decision and actions.

Toll road operators permanently act at four levels on their network to improve road safety and reduce the number of road casualties:

Appropriate accident prevention measures:

  • Maintaining the road network with the highest possible standards of safety 365 days in all weather conditions.
  • Ensuring an effective infrastructure safety management by carrying out regularly road safety audits and inspections.
  • Providing real time traffic information: queues at toll stations, accidents, road works, weather and road conditions, travel time information and other relevant information for the driver.
  • Deploying cooperative intelligent systems (C-ITS) to detect automatically incident and provide real-time traffic information.
  • Ensuring the safe management and protection of traffic on work sites by early warning through proper road signing and the use of different communication means (internet, traffic radio, sms, variable     message signs), including the protection of road workers.
  • Setting up of high-performance protective fences designed both to resist the impact and to absorb the energy.
  • Fast removal of stopped vehicles and other possible dangers.
  • Providing high quality service areas where drivers/users can rest.

Quick accident response
: it is of utmost importance in order to save lives, reduce the impact of an accident and restore the traffic conditions on the infrastructure. The key operations/procedures undertaken by toll road operators are:

  • Prompt road patrols reaction: secure the accident area, clear & clean the road section affected.
  • activate the emergency response and cooperate with the fire brigades, police and emergency services.
  • Early assistance and warning in case of accident.
  • Prepare appropriate traffic management plan.

Collection and analysis of data accident: to investigate the main causes of accidents and then implement successful strategies with proper actions on the infrastructure and / or drivers’ behaviours.

Awareness-raising campaigns: to encourage drivers to have a responsible behaviour on the motorway, ASECAP members run awareness & education campaigns using different communication tools (videos, spots, books, games).

C-ITS as a public goal to safeguard safe mobility and efficient traffic management
C-ITS – the cooperative intelligent transport systems – deployment and applications will play a crucial role in achieving the “Vision Zero” goal in road safety by establishing the vital direct link between vehicles themselves, road infrastructure and other road users, delivering warnings to road workers and vehicles and helping to prevent accidents and to reduce their severity. Therefore, ASECAP members foresee that C-ITS has a great potential to further improve the health and safety for road users and workers on road works sites. Furthermore, with increasing penetration rates of cooperative connected and, in future, also automated vehicles, C-ITS will contribute enabling collaborative traffic management to reducing congestion and to creating a smooth traffic flow: it has a positive impact on fuel consumption that is reduced and, hence, CO2 emissions and air pollution are reduced. ASECAP members are already investing massively to upgrade, adapt & modernize their motorways for full deployment of autonomous vehicles.

Photo credit (from top to bottom):
© Attica Tollway, Greece – HELLASTRON
© Attica Tollway, Greece – HELLASTRON

Offering high-level services to the users through innovation

Toll collection is not simply a tool: road users pay a toll directly to road operators when using the road network in question. This makes the users of the road infrastructure the key focus of attention for motorway companies. The modern road operator does not simply offer a “transit service” to road users, but a real “product” requiring massive investments.

Over and above duty of a toll road operator as a public service provider, they also have an obligation to provide customers with a high-quality of service (high availability and accessibility of road infrastructure), ensure the highest possible level of security and safety for both people and goods, offer high-quality service areas where drivers/users can rest and guarantee smooth traffic flows.

The principal purpose consists of offering the best possible conditions of travel to customers. In general terms, actions undertaken by toll road operators must contribute to increasing comfort and safety throughout the customer’s journey since this is the way in which toll road operators will best be able to fulfil their essential function of ensuring that travelers and goods arrive at their destination in the best possible conditions.

Road users are constantly provided with efficient mobility information services. Europe-Wide Traveler Information Services, made available to motorway users, comprises comprehensive travel information with a broad perspective allowing for well-informed travel decisions, both pre-trip and on-trip. The key goal is to provide the road users with relevant information in a harmonized manner which is easy to understand and process.

This includes road traffic status, weather conditions, and warnings of accidents or road works zones. The Europe-Wide Traffic Management Services also give guidance to the European travelers on the condition of the road network. They detect incidents and emergencies, implement response strategies to ensure safe and efficient use of the road network and optimize the existing infrastructure for all vehicles, including those crossing borders. ASECAP Members, all road operators, work in close collaboration to provide consistent and seamless travel information across Europe.

Furthermore, members of ASECAP firmly work towards fully interoperable electronic toll collection (ETC) systems across Europe, which further guarantees optimal traffic flows and significantly increases the average traffic speed through the toll plazas.

But the obligation to fulfil the Green Deal objectives implies that the toll road operators have to bring innovative solutions. As electronic tolling technologies have developed over the past decade, motorway operators are seeing a shift from manual toll collection to all-electronic toll collections. Free flow tolling, cashless tolling, contactless tolling, license plate tolling—all-electronic tolling (AET) is a big part of the tolling industry today that’s poised to get even bigger. In addition, variable pricing encourages more efficient use of transportation infrastructure by shifting demand to alternate modes and routing trips to less congested times of the day: Car-sharing/pooling services, managed lanes with bus lanes or HOV lanes, and the new user paradigm are evolving to meet the new mobility needs and reduce carbon foot print.

Moreover, C-ITS will help deploy autonomous driving by providing an instant and low latency data exchange amongst infrastructure and vehicles. ASECAP members have started their deployment activities: C-ITS systems thriving ITS-G5 and long-range cellular communication together. ASECAP members follow the hybrid approach: combining the short-range communication environment and cellular long-range communication. Currently, ITS-G5 is the only one short range technology ready for C-ITS deployment. In future, it will become part of the wider digital communication environment that includes 5G and future WLAN or cellular communication systems. However, they need to avoid co-channel and adjacent channel interference to and from other ITS technologies: there is indeed the need for C-ITS to technically co-exist with the systems currently used on Europe’s motorways: EETS, Electronic tolling system, the digital tachograph and the remote enforcement of vehicle weight control. C-ITS technologies have a therefore a great potential because they will be increasingly beneficial for road users, but their wide deployment will require huge investments from toll road operators.

Also, toll road operators have also understood the great potential of artificial intelligence (AI) that will help switch from the old physical traditional toll system to a free flow tolling system in order to prepare a future seamless transition for customers. AI software has already been developed to fully automatically determine the toll classification of vehicles. In a very near future, AI will be used for other complex tasks such as the complex identification of vehicles for complex tolling (transport of dangerous goods, transport of disabled people), the enforcement on vehicle detection, and enhancements on subscriber detection. The challenge that will have to be taken up is to have a high level of confidence in AI detection to reach the current level of physical toll operated manually.

All these technologies will definitely contribute to building a sustainable, seamless, cashless, automated and interoperable tolling system at the service of road users aiming at reducing carbon footprint.

Photo credit (from top to bottom):
© Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A. / AISCAT
© Autopistas España-Abertis Group SA / SEOPAN