Maintenance engineering standards to fulfil the legal duty of road authorities towards safe roads

Roodt, Louis de Villiers (2016-03)

Thesis (DEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The road network is a mode of communication that is important for the movement of people and the distribution of goods. Ownership of roads is vested in public entities. The provision of roads follows need, but is influenced by policy and funding from the public purse. The supply of roads infrastructure is therefore discretionary. The maintenance of roads is subject to operational needs, safety requirements and treasury guidelines on asset management. Maintenance of road assets, in particular safety-related maintenance, may be mandatory to meet accepted engineering standards and the expectations of communities. South Africa has a poor road safety record. Deaths per annum resulting from motor vehicle accidents peaked in 2006 at over 15 000 and stabilised at around 13 800 from 2008 to 2012. The road conditions, in particular failures, play a role in many of the accidents. Most road failures result from inadequate maintenance. The legal duty to ensure that roads are reasonably safe to use has been confirmed in legislation, policy and case law. Failure to perform this legal duty may lead to damages, for which the road authority will be liable in delict. For a case to succeed, the elements of delict must be satisfied. An act or omission that caused the damages must exist and it must be proven that the road authority was at fault. If the act was wrongful and the road authority acting through its employees is found to have acted negligently, the plaintiff’s claim will be awarded based on the contributory negligence of all parties involved in the accident, leading to apportionment of damages. Negligence is not only related to failure to maintain the road to generally accepted standards, but also in not having systems to manage, organise, execute and control the maintenance need and actions. This thesis discusses road safety, the development of standards, asset management processes and legalities. Critical characteristics of the road are identified and standards proposed. The maintenance of such standards will provide a strong defence against claims of negligence. The thesis further analyses case studies of decided claims and investigated accidents to determine principles and norms that have evolved in law. The thesis proposes a set of standards, threshold values, inspection cycles, reaction times and decision triggers to inform the maintenance of road infrastructure for safer roads. These standards include threshold values for the dimensions of potholes, edge breaks and drop-off, rutting, skid resistance, the affirmation of sight distances through the control of vegetation and location of trees. It lists trigger values for maintenance actions that must be performed to mitigate hazardous conditions, including drainage, signs and guardrails. The research forms a foundation for industry practice guidelines on maintenance for safer roads in the context of the road authorities’ legal duties towards road safety.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ’n Land se padnetwerk is ’n belangrike kommunikasiemiddel vir beweging van mense en verspreiding van goedere. Eienaarskap van paaie berus op die openbare sektor. Die voorsiening van paaie volg behoefte, maar word beïnvloed deur beleid en die beskikbaarheid van fondse. Die voorsiening van paaie is dus diskresionêr. Die onderhoud van paaie is onderworpe aan bedryfsvereistes, veiligheid, en esourieriglyne ten opsigte van batebestuur. Onderhoud van bates, veral ten opsigte van veiligheid, mag spesifiek verpligtend wees om aan aanvaarde ingenieursstandaarde en die verwagtinge van die emeenskap te voldoen. Suid-Afrika het ’n swak rekord van padveiligheid. Padsterftes per jaar as gevolg van padongelukke het gestyg tot 15 000 in 2006 en daarna rondom 13 800 van 2008 tot 2012 gestabiliseer. Padtoestande en -falings speel in baie gevalle ’n rol. Die meeste padfalings is die resultaat van onvoldoende padonderhoud. Die regsplig om paaie op ’n redelike vlak van veiligheid te onderhou is gevestig in wetgewing en beleid en in regspresedente. Gebrek om hierdie regsplig na te kom kan tot regseise/skadevergoeding lei en die padowerheid kan verantwoordelik gehou word in terme van die deliktereg. ’n Handeling of gebrek aan handeling moet tot skade lei en daar moet bewys word dat die padowerheid verkeerd was. As die handeling of late dan verkeerd was en die padowerheid het nalatig deur die aksies van sy werknemers gehandel, kan die eiser se al word. Die omvang van die verhaling word uit die bydraende nalatigheid van al die partye bepaal en die skade word in verhouding verdeel. Nalatigheid word nie net gekoppel aan die gebrek om die paaie oreenkomstig aanvaarbare standaarde te onderhou nie, maar ook aan die doeltreffendheid van die stelsels wat daargestel is om onderhoud te beplan, te organiseer, uit te voer en te beheer. Hierdie verhandeling beskryf die agtergrond van padveiligheid, ontwikkeling van standaarde, batebestuurstelsels en regaspekte. Kritieke eienskappe van die pad word uitgewys en standaarde aan die hand gedoen. Handhawing van standaarde bied ’n sterk verweer teen eise wat op nalatigheid gegrond is. Gevallestudies van afgehandelde eise en botsingsondersoeke word ontleed om regsbeginsels te bepaal. Die verhandeling stel standaarde, drempelwaardes, inspeksiesiklusse, reaksietye en besluitnemingsoorwegings voor om onderhoud van paaie vir veiligheid te rig. Sodanige standaarde sluit in die afmetings van slaggate, kantverbrokkeling en vlakverskille, spoorvorming, glyweerstand, en die handhawing van sigafstande deur beheer van plantegroei en plasing van bome. Dit lys die drempelwaardes vir onderhoud wat nodig is om onveilige toestande te verhoed of te versag ten opsigte van dreinering, padtekens en skramrelings. Die navorsing vorm ’n grondslag vir bedryfsriglyne vir onderhoud vir veiliger paaie in die konteks van die padowerheid se regsplig ten opsigte van padveiligheid.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98720
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