09 Apr 2014
Global NCAP highlights pedestrian safety at the UN

The potential of crash avoidance systems to reduce pedestrian deaths has been highlighted by Global NCAP at the United Nations in New York. Speaking to the UN Road safety Collaboration, Global NCAP’s Secretary General, David Ward said that emergency braking systems combined with softer car fronts can reverse the rise in pedestrian fatalities. “New automatic braking systems can cut 15 kph before an impact and if the car also has a more forgiving bonnet and bumper design the risk of fatal injury can be significantly reduced. That is why pedestrian safety technologies for crashworthiness and avoidance must become a priority in the UN Decade of Action” he said[1].

View the presentation here

At the UN meeting held on the eve of a major debate on road safety in the UN General Assembly, David Ward described the assessment activities for pedestrian safety being undertaken by NCAPs around the world. He explained the European New Car Assessment Programme’s pedestrian safety rating and reviewed research carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the German automobile club, the ADAC. Both organisations have been examining positively the potential of pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems.

Every year 270,000 pedestrians are killed on the roads accounting for 22% of all road traffic deaths. Most pedestrian fatalities occur in low income countries but they are a major issue in all regions. In high income countries they are taking an increasing share of road deaths as other at risk groups such as vehicle occupants become safer.

The UN already has a global technical regulation (GTR No.9) for pedestrian protection which encourages the design of more forgiving car fronts. The standard requires softer bumpers, combined with better bonnet area clearance and removal of unnecessarily stiff structures to reduce the severity of a pedestrian impact. In parallel the recent development of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) using laser/radar systems that apply the brakes if the driver does not react in time, can reduce low speed collisions by 20%[2]. With sensors to detect pedestrians AEB systems will help to maximise the benefit of softer and ‘forgiving’ car fronts.

This positive synergy and integration of crashworthiness and crash avoidance technologies is a trend that Global NCAP strongly supports. The UN’s Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety also endorses this approach calling for “investment in research and development of safety technologies that will improve vehicle safety and reduce risks to vulnerable road users”.“The task now” said David Ward, “is to accelerate both application of the UN regulation and deployment of AEB/pedestrian detection systems”.

[1] See: Pedestrian Safety – Developments in Crash Worthiness and Crash Avoidance, presentation by David Ward to the 19th Meeting of the United Nation’s Road Safety Collaboration, New York.

[2] See: http://www.thatcham.org/aeb.