In vehicle technology

A higher vehicle safety level for all road users is one of the cornerstones of CLEPA members’ development plans, which will support a reduction of the number of fatalities and injuries in road traffic.

The record is impressive. Safety-belts are a proven life-saving device with an overall effectiveness of more than 50%, a figure which becomes even higher when additional functions are included, such as pre-tensioning and load-limiting. Frontal and side impact airbags have further significantly reduced the number of fatalities to date. Research findings show that the avoidance effectiveness of electronic stability control (ESC) is more than 30% in fatal single vehicle accidents and more than 50% in wet road accidents.

Passive safety

With regards to protecting people in crashes, also known as passive safety, CLEPA believe that more attention should be given to passengers in the back of the vehicle, like children, smaller stature occupants and older people especially, to new and evolved types of vehicles (e.g. light weight design, two wheelers and electric vehicles) along with vehicle collision compatibility. The protection of pedestrians is already addressed through EU regulations, but the protection of other vulnerable road users, in particular cyclists, should be considered in light of this issue being a major concern in many Member States. Accident statistics show that there is also a need to protect interacting car occupants in side impacts.

Active safety

When it comes to mitigation and avoidance of crashes, also known as active safety, new systems have entered the market. Recent research findings show that the new systems, such as forward collision warning combined with autonomous emergency braking (FCW/AEB) and lane departure warning combined with lane keep assist(LDW/LKA), have significant potential to further mitigate crashes and reduce the frequency of various crashes. AEB addresses rear end crashes which have a share of 15% of all accidents with casualties and shows an effectiveness in rear-end collisions avoidance of up to 70%. LDW prevents up to 7% and LKA up to 26% of all relevant accidents with casualties.

Driver assistance

Available road accident statistics over many years show that many accidents are related to the field of human factors. Driver assist systems, such as the aforementioned FCW, AEB, LDW and LKA, as well as night vision, adaptive lighting, detection of vulnerable road users and blind spot detection, all have a substantial potential to improve drivers’ performance and should be promoted further. Driver state monitoring including drowsiness and distraction detection is developing quickly and has, in particular combined with the other driver assist systems, also a large life-saving and injury reducing potential and should therefore be supported.

Although many accidents are caused by human error, some accidents are caused by wild animals, tyre bursts and the like. They are not frequent, but often result in severe consequences. Most driver assist systems aim to alert the driver about a particular situation. Night vision and adaptive lighting, for example, support detection of pedestrians and animals on country roads and reduce the number of this type of accident. Burst tyres are most often preceded by low tyre pressure, which is detected by tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). CLEPA supports an extension of the TPMS regulation to light and heavy commercial vehicles.

As a way of supporting traffic rules compliance, safety-belt reminders have already proven to be highly effective, showing a decrease of 80% of the unbelted rate . However they have only become mandatory for the driver seat in European vehicles, inclusion of other seating positions should be considered. The deployment of speed assist devices (by ITS applications or camera-based systems) and vehicle integrated alcohol detection systems should be further supported. It is estimated that 5000 lives would be saved annually in the EU if alcohol limits were respected . The importance of keeping posted speed limits is a long-standing and well-recognised safety aspect.

Post crash

Certain ITS applications have promising effects on both road safety and protection of the environment and should be encouraged. For example vehicle based eCall systems, which address both the time for injured persons to get to a hospital for medical care and the time to resolve road congestion due to an accident. Life-saving ITS applications should be implemented and become mandatory once the necessary infrastructure is operational in all Member States.

Recent research also shows that active and passive safety systems complement each other and should not be substituted one for the other. The way forward is an integrated approach, combining active and passive safety potentials to gain further improvements in the safety of vehicle occupants and of other road users.

Besides the development and installation of new vehicle safety systems, which results in safer vehicles, it is important to continue to promote the vehicle safety in the EU through Euro NCAP and other programs. CLEPA believes this is particularly important in Member States with high fatality and injury rates. The continued enforcement of traffic rules and improvements to the infrastructure in the EU remain as major keys to reach the goal of halving the number of road fatalities. Nevertheless, each technology can only be effective if human behavior is considered in the whole process of traffic safety. In principle, a balanced approach between advanced vehicle technology, driver behaviour and well-developed infrastructure is needed to reduce traffic accidents permanently.

Europe has an established leadership in safety innovations and technologies which should be supported. Most of the above discussed systems developed by CLEPA’s member companies are produced in Europe and  therefore can have a significant and positive side effect for the entire European automotive industry in economic terms.