06 May 2013

Driving forward pedestrian safety

A new generation of technologies holds the key to radically improving pedestrian safety.

This is the view of the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR), the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS), who joined together today to conduct a pedestrian safety demonstration at CASR’s Vehicle Testing Laboratory in Kent Town.

Marking the second anniversary of the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 during UN Global Road Safety Week, the demonstration showed how new technologies can alert the driver to an imminent crash, and intervene to prevent a crash from occurring.

The University of Adelaide’s Associate Professor Robert Anderson, CASR Deputy Director, says CASR has long been conducting research to support the protection of pedestrians and other road users.

“For over a decade, this has included testing vehicle designs for their ability to protect pedestrians and cyclists – data we provide to ANCAP to inform their car safety rating program,” says Associate Professor Anderson. It’s clear that our combined efforts will continue to prevent many deaths and injuries across Australia for many years into the future.

“Now there is a new generation of safety technologies emerging that assist the driver to reduce collision impact speeds and even prevent some accidents from occurring.

“CASR is developing the capability to test these technologies so we can assess and rate their effectiveness and, together with ANCAP, promote their adoption and uptake in new cars. The first of these is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).”

Pedestrian road-related deaths comprise about 13% of Australia's annual road toll - approximately 180 lives. Globally, this stands at around 25% or 270,000 lives. ANCAP Chief Executive Officer Mr Nicholas Clarke says this could be countered through advancements in vehicle safety technology.

“The fast adoption of new technologies like AEB could see the road toll cut in half by 2020, and pedestrian deaths and injuries substantially reduced as part of this,” Mr Clarke says.

“We're already seeing the benefits of AEB in Europe and the United States where manufacturers are including AEB as standard on many more models than here in Australia. Real-world data suggests AEB can reduce crashes by up to 27% and ANCAP would like to see this life-saving technology become a mandatory requirement for all new vehicles sold in our region."

ACRS SA Chapter Chair Dr Jeremy Woolley adds, "With a growing awareness of the health benefits of encouraging active lifestyles by governments and individuals, we are likely to see increases in the amount of pedestrian activity in our cities. The vehicle technologies presented today will play an important role in making our roads safer for pedestrians in the short to medium term as modifying the road environment will take considerably more time and effort to achieve."

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