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Goal Zero: Safer Vehicles, Roads via Design, Technology PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 March 2010
Out of the 1.2 million yearly global traffic deaths, more than 85% happen in developing countries, with a dangerous trend to double in number by 2020. The experience of highly motorised countries has shown that there are simple, cost-effective measures that can have an extraordinary and guaranteed impact on this health disaster. Such measures deal with problems like speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol, and low usage rates of seatbelts, child restraints, reflective clothing and motorcycle helmets. Additional measures focus on replacement of older, less-safe vehicles and upgrading poorly-designed and/or -maintained roads, while protecting vulnerable users -- all while working towards a more coordinated effort in terms of traffic legislation, political awareness and police enforcement.
On the other hand, reducing the remaining death toll in industrialised countries has been a painful experience, with a far longer learning curve than expected. Having halved that death toll is considered quite a success, both by governments and the automotive industry.

But there’s a lot more to be done in our already highly motorised countries if we consider that roads and cars should be designed to minimise the consequences of a crash and the likelihood of a traffic-related fatality. Recent European Union research has found that for citizens under 45 years, the death rates from road crashes is more than six times higher than from cancer and 14 times higher than from coronary heart disease.

Now that Electronic Stability Control is being mandated in most highly-motorised countries, the next priority should be given to automatic braking, automatic cruise control, and lane change systems to give drivers advanced warnings and decrease the kinetic energy of vehicles in potentially dangerous driving situations. The new Volvo S60, Mercedes E-Class, and Audi A8 are showing the way for these innovative intelligent driver assistant systems. Because they are new and costly, we presently lack experience and data on the efficacy of these systems. It will be a major challenge to make them affordable for middle- and low-range cars.

Safer night driving is the other priority, with Advanced Front Light Systems automatically adjusting to road and weather conditions, Adaptive Driving Beam in the future, relying on IR or FIR Vision to take care of pedestrians or animals. Driver distraction will also have to be taken care of through Driver Attention Assist and Speed Limit Recognition systems.
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Editorial PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 March 2010
Two years ago, the TÜV Rheinland organisation presented a study of actual German traffic crash data showing up to 18% fewer fatal accidents as a result of the increased use of xenon headlamps. The study forecast that a full switch to xenon would prevent 1200 crashes on German roadways, and lower the nighttime traffic death toll by 18%. If these results remain valid when applied to Europe at large—and there's no reason to think they can't be—it would mean about 8,800 lives saved and 92,000 injury crashes prevented.

HMM, the Hannover Medical School, is publishing a study showing the positive effect of xenon headlampson safety. HMM has studied crashes from the GIDAS database involving cars equipped with halogen headlamps. Their analysis  is based on dynamic reconstruction of real crashes and simulation of the situation if the cars involved had been equipped with xenon lamps instead. They analysed in detail 20 cases of the most frequent types of nighttime crash; the results show that  4 of those 20 crashes could have been completely avoided if only the cars involved had been equipped with Xenon headlamps, and 6 others partially because speed or alcohol were also involved (see details in our in-depth section). Clearly a positive safety effect of Xenon headlamps has been established.

The combination of these 2 studies, the first statistical and the second practical, prove that Xenon headlighting is a safety feature which saves lives and prevents injury and property damage. All of us in the lighting community are wise to remember that, and to promote high-performance lighting systems more fervently and persistently.
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