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TRA 2008 road safety and security focus

Organisers of this year’s Transport Research Arena (TRA 2008) in Ljubljana will be highlighting a number of important road transport-related issues, including safety and security. Participants will hear high-level presentations throughout the event and see key initiatives showcased at the conference exhibition.

Peter Gutierrez
Car accident

Safety and security are growing concerns for the businesses, governments and the travelling public around the world. Every year, about 50 000 people die in the EU Member States in road accidents. One could argue that this high number of fatalities represents the greatest threat to public safety in Europe today. The annual cost to the economy now exceeds €200 billion. But getting the safety message across is not as easy as it sounds.

New threats

EU trade, both internal and external, relies on efficient road transport systems, but these systems can be easy targets and even vectors for terrorist activities. EU surface transport research includes work on:

  • Security of containers, terminals, vessels, and critical infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels;
  • Development of integrated and intelligent tracking systems;
  • Intelligent seals, sensors and screening technologies;
  • Satellite technologies applications.

Road safety

EU road safety policy and research follow three strategic lines:

Active safety measures – preventing accidents from happening in the first place, most importantly by influencing driver behaviour through regulation, law enforcement, etc., but also by improving roads and vehicle performance and by introducing systems for driver assistance;

Passive safety measures – limiting the negative consequences of accidents through improved vehicle crash behaviour;

Information gathering and dissemination – originally intended to influence consumers by providing a realistic and independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) has also had an important influence on car manufacturers, many of whom are now actively involved in road safety issues. Meanwhile, the CARE accident statistics database gathers and makes available information on the causes of accidents and injury.

The ability to implement ambitious policies aimed at reducing transport-related risks depends on state-of-the-art research and technological development. Under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), improving transport safety and security is a fundamental research priority.

Today’s EU-supported research focuses on the operation of vehicles and infrastructure as well as the transport system as a whole. Participants at the TRA 2008 conference will hear a range of presentations and see the results of European research on safety of drivers, passengers, crew, cyclists, pedestrians and goods.

Case study:

Reducing death and injury due to road accidents

The EU-funded APROSYS project is developing critical technologies to improve passive safety for all Europeans. Partners identify four categories of road user to benefit from its outcomes: car occupants; motorcyclists; truck occupants; and pedestrians and pedal cyclists. Their goal is to see a reduction in road deaths by

15 000 once the results are fully integrated. Specific contributions to European road safety are to include:

  • Development of new injury criteria;
  • New mathematical models of the human body;
  • A worldwide, harmonised, small female crash-test dummy for side impact testing;
  • Development of knowledge and tools for design, implementation and evaluation of intelligent safety systems;
  • Enhanced virtual testing technologies; and
  • Test methods and advanced protection systems for injury reduction.