Highway Design and Safety

Base Knowledge

Topography and Technical Drawing.

Teaching Methodologies

An expositive and inquisitive approach is used during the presentationof the different concepts in the Theoretical-Practical classes and several application exercises are discussed. The students carry out a practical group work, essentially of practical application of the studied subjects, which consists on defining the horizontal and vertical alignments of a small road, taking into account a set of typical conditions in these questions. A methodology of self-learning and communication will be followed, as well as monitoring of students, through clarifying theoretical doubts, solving exercises and monitoring the carrying out of practical work.

Learning Results

Goals: It is intended that students grasp the main features and constraints of land transport infrastructures as Civil engineering works, focusing especially on its geometrical layout; Generic Skills: Use of knowledge and understanding; Conducting judgment and decision making; Communication; Self-learning; Specific Skills: Acquire knowledge and understanding skills in the field of activities related to the design of land transport infrastructures, in its various components, in particular roads; Know how to analyze the geometric definition of a road and its interdependence with aspects related to road safety.


  1. Geometrical design – Definition of the geometric layout according to a wide set of criteria, addressing issues currently encountered in the determination of the geometrical characteristics in the design phase, highlighting points of contact between highways and railroads. The discussed topics include: planning and main elements of a land transportation infrastructure, fundamental constraints of its layout, general geometric definition, traffic analysis and prediction and evaluation of the traffic flow performance of uniterrupted facilities.
  2. Introduction to road safety and road signs – The combination of driver-vehicle-highway factors in the context of accidents, the importance of quality principles, spatial and temporal consistency in a safe road environment and the detection of risk locations. General principles of vertical and horizontal signage under the framework of the Road Signs and Signals Regulations in use.
  3. Evaluation of the volumes of land to be moved concerning the definition of the earthworks to be carried out, regarding the construction of a road or railway infrastructure

Curricular Unit Teachers





  • F. Branco, L. Picado, S. Capitão (2001). Vias de Comunicação – Vol I,  Coimbra: DEC, FCTUC
  • Junta Autónoma de Estradas (1994). Norma de Traçado. Almada: JAE  [7-4-186 (ISEC) – 12378]
  • Compilation of PowerPoint slides used in class


  • Transportation Researc Board (2000). Highway Capacity Manual. Washington, D. C.: TRB [7-4-177 (ISEC) – 11934]
  • Wright,P. H., Dixon, K. (2004). Highway Engineering  (7th ed.), Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley & Sons, cop.  [7-4-204 (ISEC) – 13060]
  • Mannering, F. L., Kilareski, W. P. (1998). Principles of highway engineering and traffic analysis.  New York : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., [ 7-4-159 (ISEC) – 10884]
  • Lamm, R., et al. (1999). Highway design and traffic safety engineering handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill,  [7-4-161 (ISEC) – 10885]
  • PIARC Technical Commmittee on Road Safety (2003). Road safety manual : recommendations from the World Road Association.  Kent, UK : Route 2 Market  [7-4-215 (ISEC) – 13490]
  • RENFE (2008). Nociones básicas ferroviarias. (2ª ed) Barcelona : Marcombo, cop.  [7-4-254 (ISEC) – 15274]