Major network targets road safety
The Fourth European Vehicle Passive Safety Network (EVPSN) Conference took place in Paris on 6 November 2003. Over one hundred representatives from both European and non-European countries exchanged views on strategy and policy and discussed the latest results of work in areas ranging from virtual testing to new restraint systems to the latest developments in crash-test dummy technologies.
“Vehicle safety is a big problem in Europe,” said EVPSN General Coordinator Jac Wismans. “Our goal is to reduce road deaths in Europe from 40,000 to 20,000 per year by 2010. This is an enormous task and it involves work in many areas of passive safety. The experts here today, mainly from Europe but also from around the world, are exchanging research results and looking ahead to new passive safety strategies. Bringing people together like this, from research, from industry and from our political institutions, is the most efficient way not only to develop these new systems but to get them approved and quickly integrated into our new cars and automobiles.”
The conference included an opening session on European safety challenges, followed by scientific presentations and a high-powered panel discussion on the future of European vehicle safety policy.
EVPSN and EVPSN 2
Launched in 1998, the European Vehicle Passive Safety Network was aimed at reducing the number of road traffic victims through the establishment of co-operative relationships among the automotive industry, safety systems suppliers, research institutions and universities. Running for four years, the original network organised 16 workshops, one training session, seven state-of-the-art reports and created a new website. EVPSN also initiated a cluster of 15 R&D project proposals under the EU’s Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), 13 of which were accepted for funding.
EVPSN 2, the successor to the original network, was launched in 2002 and will run through 2004. Building on the infrastructure established by its predecessor, EVPSN 2 seeks to solidify working relationships among all the relevant passive safety players, linking current network members with the growing number of clustered Community-funded projects in the field of passive safety.
Specific EVPSN 2 objectives include:
- Stimulating technology transfer
- Providing a platform for ‘knowledge brokering’
- Facilitating co-operation
- Clustering of research projects
- Establishing links with related networks
- Identifying gaps in research and initiating new R&D projects
- Promoting the interests of the passive safety community
- Disseminating research results
EVPSN activities are divided into seven ‘work packages’, each one aimed at tackling a specific network task.
Work package 1 – Network management
Edgar Janssen of TNO Automotive presented an overview of EVPSN and its activities. EVPSN 2 currently comprises 55 members, he explained, up from 46 under the original network. He also described two new initiatives under the Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the APSN (Advanced Passive Safety Network) Network of Excellence, and the APROSYS integrated project.
Work package 2 – Strategy, planning and project initiation
According to Charles Oakley of the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), “FP6 means a new approach. Larger integrated projects like APROSYS are part of that.” EVPSN 2 will also be focussing, he said, not only on new technologies but also on education and other pre-crash preventive measures.
Work package 3 – Mapping of competencies
Coordinated by IDIADA, this work package provides a dynamic overview of all relevant European organisations for RTD and technology uptake in the field of passive safety.
Work package 4 – Coordination of RTD
“Real-world accident and injury data are hard to combine from one study to another,” said Per Lövsund of Chalmers University of Technology. Harmonising methodologies and establishing a common European passive safety database are among the main challenges for this work package.
Work package 5 – User groups
Activities include identification and prioritising of user needs and technology requirements. DaimlerChrysler’s Christian Mayer defined eight user groups: passenger cars; busses; trucks; pedestrians; rail transport; aircraft; road furniture; and post-crash and rescue services.
Work package 6 – Education and training
Tomosz Dziewonski from the VISEB Lab group of the Warsaw University of Technology described a number of well-received initiatives, including a series of workshops, training sessions and meetings aimed at raising awareness of passive safety issues, especially among the young. A website has also been set up to serve Central- and Eastern-European (CEE) countries.
Work package 7 – Dissemination and exploitation
Coordinated by TNO, the goal here is the dissemination of research results within member organisations, industry and society. Other activities include establishing and maintaining links with related networks.
Pushing the envelope – technologies on display.
The EVPSN is co-ordinating a number of highly advanced research projects. For example, ADVANCE and VITES are twin projects aimed at developing innovative tools and procedures for virtual testing. These two projects have jointly developed a unique generic tool, ADVISER, for evaluating simulation tools.
Meanwhile, the FID project has developed a new and improved crash-test dummy. “Frontal collisions produce the highest numbers of injuries and fatalities in road accidents,” explained FID coordinator Michiel Van Ratingen of TNO. The new frontal impact dummy, called THOR-FT, features realistic movements and can measure a variety of impact forces.
Other featured projects included MIRA – developing ‘smart’ restraint systems, ROLLOVER – understanding and preventing rollover accidents, and PENDANT – developing a set of targeted, in-depth crash data resources.
The final session featured a panel discussion on safety policy. John Berry of the European Commission said, “The Commission’s Road Safety Action Plan sets out the goal of reducing deaths on EU roads by 50% by 2010, but for this target to be realised, all those engaged in road safety, be they individuals or local, regional or national authorities, must focus their efforts on risk reduction.”
Dominique Cesari of INRETS presented the view of the French Ministry of Equipment and Representative Transport. “The French government has recently decided to consider the improvement of road safety as a first priority,” he said. The country has recently completed a five-year R&D programme that included over 100 projects on vehicle safety and ergonomics. A new programme has now been launched for 2002-2006. One of its first actions has been to support research activities aimed at protecting vulnerable road users, especially pedestrians. France is also encouraging the participation of French researchers in the EU’s FP6, said Cesari.
Finally, Joe Kanianthra, representing the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, presented the American view, and Kris Van Der Plas of the OICA presented the position of the car manufacturing industry.
In his closing remarks, Jac Wismans called for a renewed commitment to road safety, “…a worldwide problem that needs worldwide solutions. This means broader co-operation with both European and non-European partners.”