Simplification of standards (3)

Other complications with standards


One problem with some standards is not the format – pdf or paper for example -but that you have to search backwards and forwards through many pages of the document before you find all the information about a particular geometric parameter. The AASHTO Green book seems to be one example of this. The Austroads standard goes even further in that it refers to other publications for the details of some parameters.


Countries  such as the UK and the USA suffer from having several standard documents which discuss the same parameters. Some are produced at national level, others at regional (state or county level) and at city levels. At best this is a duplication of effort, at worst the  recommendations in the different documents  conflict with each other (see also the blog posts on “too many standards”, for example here)

Inconsistent terminology

Even if you look at standards which are produced in a common language (for example English), the definitions and classifications for features such as road type or terrain are not consistent.

Wrong approach

Standards are often prepared – or at least, developed and applied – based on administrative or political boundaries. This is not sensible in engineering terms, since a vehicle crossing an state or country boundary does not necessarily find itself subject to new conditions. Features which are related to location and which  do affect engineering include for example climate and terrain.


  1. Standards should be prepared on a modular basis, with each module describing a specific parameter
  2. There should be one main document for each parameter, with -“modifications” notes issued by responsible authorities where they feel local circumstances are different
  3. Standards should not be duplicated
  4. Standards should be related to climate and terrain conditions rather than to administrative boundaries
  5. Each module should provide details in terms of the primary influencer, design speed
  6. Each module should include comments and / or values in terms of the main secondary influencers, such as
    • Road type
    • Vehicle type
    • Road surface
    • Terrain
    • Climate
  7. Highway engineers should come up with an agreed list of definitions and classifications for features such as terrain

About roadnotes

Robert Bartlett is an international consultant with over 30 years of professional experience as a highway and traffic engineer with leading companies and organisations in several countries, including Germany, China (Hong Kong), Qatar and the UK. Specialised in urban studies, transport and the use of GIS, research has included new ideas on subjects such as the study of social justice using GIS, the dimensions of vehicles, and comparative geometrics (highways and transport).
This entry was posted in classification, highway design standards, roads and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Simplification of standards (3)

  1. Pingback: Argentina – mountain roads course | Comparative Geometrics

  2. Pingback: Parameters (1) – fundamental parameters | Comparative Geometrics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s