22 Jul 2014
UNECE adopts new test to make cars more pedestrian friendly

Serious and fatal injuries from car accidents involving pedestrians will be significantly reduced making walking and cycling safer as a result of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) adopting a new impact testing method for automakers.

Global NCAP has welcomed the announcement. Global NCAP’s Technical Director, Alejandro Furas, said: “More than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads each year, accounting for 22% of the total 1.24 million road traffic deaths. Many millions are injured. The adoption of this regulation by governments will guide manufacturers by simple improvements at a very early stage of design, to offer cars that will improve outcomes for millions of pedestrians. Manufacturers must now integrate these tests into their development processes – and governments should make compliance a legal requirement in their markets.”

Embracing the latest technological advancements, the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) adopted on 25 June an amendment to UN Regulation No. 127 (Pedestrian Safety) of the 1958 Agreement, which sets the standard test carmakers use to measure the level of damage a car could cause the human body upon impact. The new leg form test tool, known as FLEX-PLI, more accurately measures the level of injury a car’s bumper causes when it impacts a human leg.

This level of harm can be the deciding factor between a serious or minor injury. So having the most accurate measure of damage allows for the design of more pedestrian friendly car bodies and the mitigation of injury. The test is performed by launching a leg-form, an instrument that simulates a tibia, in “free flight” at the speed of 11 m/s (40 km/h) against the car bumper to reproduce real world condition of a pedestrian accident.

While it is impossible to completely eliminate pedestrian injuries or deaths, it is possible to make cars safer to the point where the most likely result is only minor injuries. This means that as the number of fatal and serious injuries decline, the number of minor injuries will increase, as accidents have less damaging results.

The German Federal Highway Research Institute estimated an annual decrease of 11 fatalities and 506 severely injured pedestrians as a result of this new testing method. In the same annual estimation, the number of slightly injured pedestrians would increase by 231. The annual cost reduction in Germany due to more pedestrian friendly vehicles designed was calculated at approximately $ 86.7 million.

The new FLEX-PLI test tool was researched and considered by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee. The amendment, which will take effect in 2015, will potentially be applied in more than 50 countries worldwide including most of Europe, South Africa, Japan, etc.

The text of the amendment is available at: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2014/wp29/ECE-TRANS-WP29-2014-038e.pdf