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Geometric Design of Highways: Integrating Safety Features

The geometric design of highways is the most efficient way that planners can design a highway to ensure that it is as safe as possible.  When utilizing geometric road design, planners will decide the best way to position the road in response to physical elements and barriers to ensure that it is safe.  For instance, they will look at how to incorporate curves and straightaways so that the road is built according to the required standards, as well as water flow and other factors to ensure that those environmental risks and hazards are adequately dealt with.

The main purpose of geometric road design is to create a roadway that encourages the smooth flow of traffic and a crash-free zone.  This can be achieved through methods like the ones mentioned above; however, it is also essential to integrate elements like barriers and delineators when necessary.  These elements help drivers to better comprehend the natural curvature of the road and its intended design, and thus, barriers and delineators help to make the road safer.

To see how the integration of elements like curves, water drains, barriers and delineators will affect the end result, planners create a geometric highway design that can be broken into three basic parts: an alignment (or route of the road), a profile (or vertical view of the road), and a cross-section.  The cross-section is a particularly important part of the design because it allows the designers to look at the number of lanes, the intersections with pedestrian pathways, the drainage features, and other elements which are sometimes considered beyond the scope of the geometric design. 

When creating their design, planners need to consider how the roads will be used, how fast the cars will be driving, how busy the roads will be, and which types of vehicles will be using the roads.  After they have carefully considered all of these things, they can finally create a geometric road design with an eye toward making the road as safe as possible.