Safety

    Vision Zero is the goal

    Almost 25% of all fatally injured road users are pedestrians. Through continually amplified security measures, this number is to be reduced – to zero.

    Almost 25% of all fatally injured road users are pedestrians. Through continually amplified security measures, this number is to be reduced – to zero.

    Road traffic is becoming increasingly safe

    The European Commission has set itself the goal of continuously reducing the number of people killed in road traffic. Vision Zero is the goal: No more serious traffic accidents. For this reason, the EU Commission supports international and national initiatives that provide for measures to improve transport infrastructure and vehicle safety, as well as to educate road users.

    In Europe, almost a quarter of all fatally injured road users are pedestrians. Extensive research into pedestrian protection was undertaken by the EU Commission, which formed the basis for legal regulations on pedestrian protection in the context of the type-approval of motor vehicles. In the so-called "Phase I," a head impact on the front hood, a collision of a legform impactor against the bumper, and the impact of an upper legform impactor against the bumper were required by law as of 2005. This led to redesigned front structures, as well as new designs of the front hood, with shock-absorbing properties. In addition, some vehicles now have pop-up engine hoods as well as special pedestrian protection airbags.

    These and other measures have contributed to a further reduction in the number of fatally injured pedestrians in Europe in recent years. Similar positive trends have also been observed in Japan, Australia, and Canada, where comparable legal requirements were defined. To harmonize legislation on pedestrian protection worldwide, a Global Technical Regulation (GTR 9) was created in 2009 under the aegis of the UNECE. GTR 9 is divided into Phase I and Phase II. Phase I is based on current European legislation, and requires the use of the so-called EEVC legform impactor to assess the risk of injury to the thighs, lower leg, and knee. In GTR-9 Phase II, a newer legform impactor (Flexible Pedestrian Legform Impactor, FlexPLI) is used.

    New requirements due to UN Regulation 127

    At the same time, the new UN Regulation 127 was created in line with GTR-9 Phases I and II to ensure the mutual recognition of type approvals for pedestrian protection in the countries that signed the 1958 agreement. The FlexPLI legform impactor is also used by the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), and has replaced the previous legform impactors used in other consumer protection programs worldwide. At the same time, diverse countries have adapted their legal regulations on pedestrian protection; since the end of 2017, the use of the FlexPLI legform impactor has been mandatory.

    The next generation of the legform impactors, however, is already in the works: The Advanced Pedestrian Legform Impactor, aPLI for short, will be included in the updated Euro NCAP Rating as of 2023.

    Compared to the FlexPLI, the aPLI offers further improvements in biofidelity; i.e., how well the legform impactor reflects a real person.

    With the General Safety Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/2144), the EU has also adopted further measures for pedestrian protection. Among other things, it describes a head test area that has been extended to include the windshield. This means that from 2024 all new vehicle types and then from 2026 all vehicles will have to prove a protection potential down to the windshield.

    Injury risk functions (IRFs) and car-pedestrian accidents

    To further improve pedestrian protection, in addition to a good knowledge of the current accident situation, the creation and evaluation of injury risk functions is important. Only through the objective evaluation of the risk functions can meaningful measures be derived for the further optimization of protective measures. To this end, vehicle manufacturers, in close cooperation with traffic-accident researchers at TU Dresden GmbH (VUFO), conducted a study on the "Methodology for the Creation of Injury Risk Functions from Real Accident Data." In addition to evaluating various procedures for creating these functions, the study also defines updated injury risk functions for adults and older people factoring in the collision speed. The data on which this evaluation is based is the analysis of the GIDAS (German In-Depth Accident Study) databank, with a focus on vehicles that have been launched on the market since the 2000. Binary logistic regression is the statistical model at the base of the risk of injury function for passenger car pedestrian accidents. In the event of a frontal collision, the collision speed of the car has the greatest predictive force when it comes to the severity of the pedestrian's injury. The pedestrian's age is also an essential parameter influencing the severity of the pedestrian's injuries. Several other direct and indirect physiological influences are also included, such as body size, bone density, musculature, or reaction capacity. However, the extent of the influence of the age is not known exactly and varies greatly from individual to individual. 

    In the future, measures to improve the active safety of vehicles will influence accident statistics. In many cases, emergency brake assist systems with pedestrian and/or cyclist detection will reduce the collision speed or avoid the accident altogether. Concurrently, further improvements to the infrastructure (e.g., pedestrian priority settings at intersections, or pedestrian crossing aids at wide road crossings) must also be consistently implemented to ensure a holistic approach to reducing accidents.

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    Andreas Perl
    Contact person

    Andreas Perl

    Technical Regulations & Materials Division

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