The European Commission has set an ambitious target for further reductions in the number of people killed on the road by 2020. In the period from 2011 to 2020, the number should halve from its current level of approx. 30,000. The EU Commission is therefore supporting global and national initiatives aimed at improving transport infrastructure, driver training and the definition of technical requirements for vehicle safety.
Almost a quarter of all fatalities in road traffic accidents in Europe are pedestrians. In urban areas this figure rises to almost one-third. This fact has been used as an incentive by the EEVC (European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee) to conduct extensive research into pedestrian safety in the field of vehicle technology. The EEVC working parties have developed various tests for this purpose, which may affect the design of motor vehicles. The results of the studies have been taken up by the EU Commission to form the basis for a statutory regulation on pedestrian safety as part of the homologation process for motor vehicles. In the so-called Phase I, a head impact on the hood, an impact of a leg test model against the fender and the impact of a hip test model against the bumper have been required by law since 2005. The simulated head impact has to be conducted with two different test models, one of which corresponds to the mass of an adult’s head and the other to that of a child’s head. To comply with the specified limit values in the various test procedures the vehicle manufacturers must ensure adequate energy absorption during the test model impact. This resulted in modified front-end structures and new designs of hoods with impact-absorbing properties. Hoods are now available with absorbent structures, actively opening hoods, alloy hoods and special pedestrian safety airbags.
This action helped to reduce fatalities among pedestrians by around 25 percent between 2005 and 2012 in Europe. Similar positive trends were also recorded in Japan, Australia and Canada. A Global Technical Regulation (GTR 9) was created in 2009 by the UNECE based on the European regulation to harmonize legislation around the world. To date, GTR9 has been implemented in national law by the member states of the European Union, Russia, Korea and Japan.
GTR 9 is divided into Phase I and Phase II. Phase I is based on current European legislation and requires the use of the EEVC leg test model to evaluate the injury risk of the thigh, lower leg and knee.
The technical development of the leg test model has been driven forward over the last few year by Japan in particular. Japan had been working on a new test model (Flexible Pedestrian Legform Impactor – FlexPLI) since the year 2000, which is now ready for use and has been defined as the new test model for GTR 9 Phase II. The regulatory requirements for the adoption of the test model into law have been satisfied by a UNECE working party. At the same time, a new UN Regulation 127 based on GTR9 Phase I and Phase II has been drafted to ensure the mutual acceptance of homologations for pedestrian safety in the countries that have signed the treaty of 1958.
The new FlexPLI flexible leg test model will also be used in the future by Euro NCAP and will replace the previous EEVC leg test model used throughout the world in other consumer safety programs. At the same time, various countries will amend their pedestrian safety regulations and from 2015 they will allow the use of the new test model and from 2018 at the latest, the use of the new flexible leg test model will be mandatory for new homologation procedures.
At the same time as the implementation of the action to improve passive safety, a whole series of active systems are being installed in motor vehicles to prevent accidents. The increasing spread of systems to affect longitudinal and lateral dynamics (for example automatic emergency braking systems, intersection assistants and lane change assistants) will also have an effect on improving pedestrian safety. Simultaneously, action must also be taken to improve the infrastructure. Examples of this are priority systems for pedestrians at intersections, light signal systems or crossing tools at wide intersections and illuminated pedestrian crosswalks.