Road Safety in Europe - Towards safer vehicles
Première transmission: 19/07/2010
Various locations (see shotlist)
Fin de production: 01/06/2009
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
What innovations does the European Union intend to introduce to improve the safety of our cars and lorries? What novelties will we find in tomorrow's showrooms? The answer consists of four points.
First: Automobiles must evolve towards models with frontal designs that are safer for pedestrians and that include materials that can absorb more of the impact. Thanks to research new features are being developed, like this windscreen mounted on a shock-absorbing frame.
Cranfield Impact Centre - United Kingdom
“The metal section will squash and in squashing absorb the energy. So, all the energy of the impact will not be taken by the pedestrian's head.”
As a result the pedestrian's head is hit by two to three times less energy in the collision. Simple and efficient.
Another idea is the sandwich car bonnet. Inside there is a deformable structure capable of absorbing shocks while outside there is a plate with pre-cut lining.
Cellbond – United Kingdom
“What this does is to promote local deformation reducing peak load and also help to direct the head into the absorber.”
In case of impact, the panel cracks at predetermined spots and all the energy is dissipated in the absorbing material underneath.
Cellbond – United Kingdom
“Children are the victims most likely to impact the bonnet, especially in the front region. We're confident that this system could save children lives. »
Another advantage is the absence of reinforcement structures, which in a conventional bonnet are dangerous hard points.
And what about an airbag for pedestrians? The prototype exists.
If an accident occurs the protective airbag stored under the bonnet inflates in just milliseconds. As it opens it also raises the bonnet to move the pedestrian away from the motor block.
Takata-Petri - Germany
“Additionally the opening between the back part of the front lid and the root pane is covered. A third part is the area of the airbag which covers the “A-pillar” and thus prevents direct contact with the hard “A-pillar” parts.”
A second development, thanks to European legislation, is a more widespread use of driver assistance systems. One example is ESC, or "Electronic Stability Control".
This system automatically corrects the car's trajectory in case of a sudden swerve, and thus keeps the vehicle from running off the road or overturning.
From November 2012, ESC will gradually become mandatory for all new vehicles: heavy-duty vehicles, coaches and cars.
Likewise, trajectory control and brake assist systems must be installed in new heavy-duty vehicles from November 2013.
Third point: visibility. This concerns especially lorries as blind spots in their rear-view mirrors cause many serious accidents.
In certain angles, the trailer size and cabin height often prevent the driver from seeing what is directly to the side or in front of the vehicle. All lorries over 3.5 tonnes must now be fitted with blind spot mirrors.
You cannot see anyone in front of the lorry or in this area. But with this blind spot mirror, you can see pedestrians perfectly well.
Night visibility is also being improved. Another European decision will soon make retro-reflective markings on the outside of lorries and trailers mandatory throughout the European Union.
And from February 2011, new vehicles will also be equipped with daytime running lights. To limit energy consumption, low consumption diodes will be used. A special design will be adopted to make sure they cannot be mistaken for motorcycle lights.
Tyres are another issue. They are our only contact with the road. New standards will define minimum tyre performance requirements. t will also become easier to choose the right tyre. By 2012 at the latest, European labelling will inform all drivers about the exact performance of the tyres mounted on their cars.
Vehicles that are safer for pedestrians, easier to see, safer to drive. The objective is clear: to save thousands of lives each year on Europe's roads.