Europe’s road transport sector is huge. More than 12 million jobs are linked to it, which contributes approximately €490 billion in turnover to Europe’s economy each year. The automotive sector alone spends some €19 billion each year on research and technological development, making it the largest private investor in RTD in Europe. Like other industrialised regions in the world, Europe’s economy has grown in parallel with its expanding road transport sector.
But road transport also creates problems for human health, safety and mobility. The EU’s road transport networks and city streets are severely congested, with traffic jams costing Europe 2% of GDP. Every year road accidents kill thousands. Critical infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels are susceptible to terrorist attack and require new thinking about ways to protect them. Most pervasive of all is the problem of pollution. Traffic-related emissions costs Europe 1.7% of GDP or €360 per year for every citizen, not to mention the public health costs of pollution-induced diseases.
EU research programmes are addressing all these problems by designing cleaner and quieter engine technologies, more stringent crash-resistant vehicles and safety-monitoring systems, smoother intermodal transport options to get more vehicles off crowded roads and, finally, intelligent traffic-management networks that save industry and consumers both time and money.
Down with road fatalities!
Road-related deaths are unacceptably high in Europe – a stark statistic that research aims to bring under control. The EU-funded APROSYS project is developing technologies to improve the passive safety of four categories of road users: car occupants, pedestrians and pedal cyclists, motorcyclists and truck occupants.
To achieve this, APROSYS partners are developing new injury criteria and mathematical models of the human body, innovative crash-test dummies for side-impact testing of injuries to female occupants, and intelligent safety systems based on enhanced virtual testing technologies. The final goal? To cut the EU’s annual 50 000 road-related fatalities by 15 000.