Articles Tagged ‘technology - Brake the road safety charity’

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is used to describe active safety systems on a vehicle that can identify safety-critical situations and take action, either automatically or by sending a warning to the driver. 

ADAS systems have developed fast, thanks in part to sensing technology; cameras, radar and laser technology referred to as lidar. This technology is also helping the development of automated and driverless vehicles.

A limited amount of ADAS is mandated through European law. Mostly it is not mandated. ADAS are rapidly being developed and fitted by vehicle manufacturers, often to high-end vehicles, and further regulation is being considered by the EC. 

Existing systems mandated on new vehicles 

Some mandatory requirements under European law for new vehicles are described below. 

Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) senses the chance of a collision ahead and automatically brakes to mitigate or avoid it. EU General Safety Regulation 661/2009 requires medium and heavy commercial vehicles to be fitted with it.

Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDW) senses an unintended lane departure and provides a warning to the driver. EU General Safety Regulation 661/2009 requires medium and heavy commercial vehicles to be fitted with it.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) detects and reduces loss of traction (skidding) through automatic braking of specific wheels and/or engine braking. EU General Safety Regulation 661/2009 requires all vehicles to be fitted with it.

Automatic Braking Systems (ABS) on cars monitors the speed of wheels and applies the brakes independently to individual wheels in order to prevent them from locking.

Controlling speed and emergency braking: opportunities for ISA and AEBS regulation

There is a review of General Safety Regulation 661/2009 underway by the EC, presenting opportunities for more ADAS to become mandatory. Prior to this review, the EC commissioned TRL (the UK's Transport Research Laboratory) to review ADAS, consult with stakeholders, and make recommendations regarding the value of systems on a safety and cost-benefit basis. TRL's 2015 report[i] made a number of recommendations including: 

Intelligent Speed Assistance/Adaptation (ISA)
TRL recommended Intelligent Speed Assistance/Adaptation (ISA). ISA identifies if a vehicle is exceeding a speed limit and can: control the vehicle to below a limit (mandatory ISA); or enable the driver to control whether the system can restrict their vehicle speed and/or the speed it is restricted to (voluntary ISA); or warn the driver if they are exceeding a limit (advisory ISA). The speed limit information is either received from a digital road map, which requires reliable information about posted speed limits from GPS, or from transponders in speed limit signs (known as a ‘beacon system’). All three forms of ISA are considered to be life-saving, but mandatory ISA more so than voluntary or advisory ISA. 

AEBS
TRL recommended AEBS on all vehicles inclusive of cars, and Emergency Brake Light Display. This system automatically deploys rapidly blinking brake lamps in case of hard braking, to warn following drivers.

Support for ISA and AEBS from academics and practitioners
In 2014, TRL carried out in-depth investigations for Highways England into most of the fatal crashes on England’s strategic road network (all England’s motorways and most of its A roads), using crash investigation teams. TRL estimated how many deaths in these fatal crashes would have been prevented if certain ADAS systems had been mandated. TRL concluded more than a third (34%) of deaths studied could have been prevented if AEBS had been mandatory on all vehicles, and one in seven (14%) could have been prevented if advisory ISA had been mandatory.[ii]

Other transport academics have also estimated reductions in deaths through fitment of ISA. It has been estimated that nearly one in three fatal crashes could be prevented by Intelligent Speed Assistance.[iii]

After a successful trial on its bus fleet, Transport for London is requiring ISA to be installed in its new buses by 2017.[iv]

Lane keeping and lane change warning systems

In its report for the EC, TRL recommended an automatic system to keep vehicles in their lane. It also recognised the potential safety benefits of systems that warn of hazards when a vehicle is lane changing. 

Lane Keeping Systems
Unlike lane departure warning systems (LDW), which warn a driver of imminent lane departure, a lane keeping system (often referred to as Lane Keep Assist (LKA)) corrects the line of travel of a vehicle automatically, steering it back into the correct position. TRL said in its report[i]: "The effectiveness of LKA is considered to be greater than LDW because the system takes action to prevent the departure event, providing of course it is active and the speed of the vehicle means the system is active. Stakeholders consulted by TRL highlighted that the effectiveness of this system could be dependent on lanes being clearly marked.

Lane Change Assistance systems and blind spot detection systems
Lane change assistance systems use sensors, mostly radar, to monitor the area around a vehicle prior to a lane change manoeuvre, and issue a warning to the driver when it is unsafe to change lanes, usually due to the presence of other vehicles in the driver's intended lane of travel. More capable systems can warn of approaching vehicles, as well as vehicles that are closer and in the driver's blind spots. TRL points out that there have been "very few field tests" regarding the effectiveness of these systems in preventing crashes but there is "anecdotal evidence" that they improve driving. 

Detecting people outside the vehicle (pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users) 

There are a number of types of ADAS, most frequently available on high-end vehicles, that aim to detect people on foot and bicycles. These were also studied by TRL in its report for the EC[i]. TRL recommended one of these:

Reversing detection systems for cars
Cars are a hazard when reversing, particularly to short, crouching and slow moving people, especially very young children and the elderly. Larger cars have more driver blind spots. Solutions to aid detection of people behind cars include sensing technology that can send a warning sound to the driver. (Additionally, cameras linked to an in-car screen, and improvements to mirrors can help improve the driver's view.) The effectiveness of these systems is dependent on the driver's ability to use mirrors / cameras and respond to warning noises.  

TRL found other systems that detect people on foot and bicycles to be in various stages of development and of variable efficacy and cost-benefit at present, as listed below: 

Pedestrian and cyclist detection systems
These systems use infra-red sensing and other sensing equipment for example radar and cameras, to detect pedestrians and cyclists and then automatically brake. This is emerging technology that does not replace the need for driver attention. Systems on the market cannot detect some people in some situations. Volvo's 'Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake' comes with a warning that it cannot identify pedestrians in certain types of clothing or carrying certain objects.[v] TRL highlighted the particular difficulty of detecting cyclists: "reliable detection of cyclists is considered to be more difficult and is some way from being ready on a mass-production scale." Combined with AEBS, these may become increasingly valuable as a safety measure, although TRL also points out that other mitigation strategies include "improvements with respect to the separation of vulnerable road users from traffic."

Night vision systems
Night vision systems use sensing equipment to detect people and then trigger a warning sound or visual display. Similar to reversing detection systems, their effectiveness is dependent on the driver's behaviour. TRL concluded: "The benefits of current systems, as well as possible negative consequences in terms of driver distraction and risk homeostasis are largely unknown. Overall there is not a consensus that night vision systems are a benefit."

Automatic cruising and emerging manoeuvring systems

Automatic/Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses sensor technology to maintain a constant time gap from a moving vehicle ahead. Some systems on some vehicles have a ‘Stop & Go’ or ‘Queue Assist’ function for use in slow-moving traffic that can slow the vehicle to a complete stop and resume driving in traffic queues.

In its report[i], TRL identified research outlining benefits and risks from ACC, including that reduced driver workload could lead to inattention.

Tesla's 'Autopilot' system has an ACC system that is described by Tesla as an "assist feature" that requires a driver to "keep hands on the steering wheel at all times," and "maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle".[vi]  A driver died in the USA when their Tesla collided with a truck. Tesla said: "neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."[vi]

Some vehicle manufacturers at the forefront of developing driverless technology are introducing features that enable a driver to instruct their vehicle to automatically carry out a manoevre that is more complex than stop, go, or travel at a set speed or distance. This includes instructing a vehicle to: assist in changing lanes in moving traffic (detect when an adjacent lane is hazard free and move into it); self-park (detect and manoeuvre into a parking space); be summoned when parked (come out of a parking space to a driver who is outside their vehicle).  Manufacturers inclusive of Tesla and Mercedes are prominent in bringing this kind of technology on to the market. ) These rapidly emerging manoeuvring technologies were not studied by TRL in its report.[i]


End notes

[i]TRL, 2015, Benefit and Feasibility of a Range of New Technologies and Unregulated Measures in the fields of Vehicle Occupant Safety and Protection of Vulnerable Road Users
[ii] TRL, McCarthy and Barrow, Towards Zero Study on fatal collisions on the SRN during 2014, Report 2264 for Highways England
[iii] Lai, Carsten & Tate (2012) ‘How much benefit does Intelligent Speed Adaptation deliver: an analysis of its potential contribution to safety and environment’. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 48: 63-72.
[iv] Transport for London, Successful trials prove effectiveness of speed limiting technology on buses, 2016 
[v] Owner's manual online, Collision warning pedestrian detection
[vi] Tesla https://www.tesla.com/blog/tragic-loss

Last updated October 2016

Autonomous and Connected Vehicles

This fact sheet provides a snapshot of developments towards full autonomy and a brief introduction to the concepts of autonomy and connected vehicles and also assisted driving. 

Snapshot of developments in Britain and worldwide

  • As early as the 1950’s and 1960’s the UK's Transport Research Laboratory (now called TRL) was operating ‘self-driving’ cars on its test track.[i]
  • 2010: Google made its first announcement about its driverless car programme.[ii]
  • 2011: Fully-automated (driverless) ‘pods’ start to be used at Heathrow’s terminal five, on a designated track. Round about the same time, trials of the Google Car started[iii].
  • February 2015: Britain’s Department for Transport produces its regulatory review of conditions for testing automated vehicles in the UK for creating a ‘pathway’ for driverless vehicles. The commits to “amending national and international legislation to facilitate production and marketing of highly and fully automated vehicles. It is envisaged that national legislation can be amended by 2017 and there should be an aim to finalise amendments to international regulations by the end of 2018.” [iv]
  • February 2015: The start of ‘Driverless Vehicle Trials’ in Greenwich[v], Bristol[vi], Milton Keynes and Coventry[vii], involving teams of engineers testing electric, fully-automated pods potentially for use in cities.
  • July 2015: The Department for Transport launches its “code of practice” for automated vehicle technology testing[viii]. The government also set up the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV).
    2015: Tesla positions itself as a company that builds vehicles from the ground up that are electric but also have "the hardware needed for self-driving capability." Customers are warned to be attentive at all times. [xxv]
  • January 2016: The European Union’s Platform for the Deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems published its final report in January 2016, saying “a coordinated action for the deployment of C-ITS in the EU is paramount: a unique legal and technical framework is essential and coordinated efforts to ensure quick uptake of C-ITS are requested.”[ix]
  • February 2016: The first funds out of the government’s dedicated £100m ‘intelligent mobility research’ fund are assigned to eight projects across the UK[x], including a project equipping a small length of Britain’s roads to be ready to test automated vehicles[xi] and a project aiming to accelerate the ‘development, market readiness and deployment’ of automated driving systems[xii].
  • March 2016: In the government’s budget, it is announced that automated vehicles will be trialled on British motorways by the end of 2017[xiii]. This is expected to include trials of several trucks travelling in platoons (connected to the lead truck using wireless technology).
  • April 2016: Highways England announces, in its Innovation, Technology and Research strategy, that its £150m innovation fund will include trials of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies and development of infrastructure standards on the strategic road network (motorways and A roads) to “futureproof” the network for these technologies[xiv].
  • April 2016: Six manufacturers of trucks take part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge[xv] showcasing platooning of large trucks on public roads heading for the Netherlands.
  • May 2016: Emphasising the importance of driver attention alongside ADAS systems, Joshua Brown dies in his Tesla when it collides with a truck crossing the carriageway while Tesla's adaptive cruise control system called Autopilot was engaged. Tesla said: "Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky so the brake was not applied." 
  • October 2016: Tesla announces that all vehicles produced in its factory are now fitted with the "hardware needed for full self-driving capability."
  • Trials of automated vehicles and connected vehicle technology, generally funded by governments, concurrently take place in other countries around the world, including USA, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and Singapore.

Understanding autonomous and connected vehicles

What do the terms mean, and what technology do they use? 
A definition of a fully-automated vehicle is given in the international standard produced by the engineer organisation SAE International.[xvi] This standard defines a fully-automated vehicle as one that not only can be driven entirely without a driver, but can be also be driven in "all roadway and environmental conditions". 

Sensor technology such as cameras, radar and laser technology (LIDAR) has driven many developments in autonomy.  Communication technology is now also highly relevant in the development of vehicle autonomy and connected transport. The term “connected” means information can be passed wirelessly from vehicle to vehicle (V2V), and/or vehicle to infrastructure (V2I)). The collective term is vehicle to everything (V2X). This means, for example, that a vehicle can ‘know’ another vehicle is approaching over the brow of a hill, even though it can’t ‘see’ it, and can ‘know’ there are roadworks around the corner.  This technology has the advantage of being able to perceive things that are further away than sensor technology, and potentially be cheaper to fit to vehicles than sensor technology[xvii]. However, it requires a coordinated approach to enable all vehicles and infrastructures to communicate compatibly.

Is the UK supportive of automated, connected vehicles? 
In Britain, the government is supportive of the development of automated and connected vehicles and is funding and allowing testing; progressively in our cities, on motorways and other roads. The government is also committed to amending legislation to enable production and sale of automated vehicles. In its Action Plan[xxi] for creating a ‘pathway’ for driverless vehicles, the Department for Transport commits to “amending national and international legislation to facilitate the production and marketing of highly and fully automated vehicles. It is envisaged that national legislation can be amended by 2017 and there should be an aim to finalise amendments to international regulations by the end of 2018.” [xxii] The government has run a public consultation on automation in 2016.

Research-led tests and trials
Driverless vehicles have been tested, trialled and showcased in several countries with much publicity, but are not in public use. This includes UK government-funded trials of automated electric pods (for example in the GATEway[xviii] project in London, led by research agency TRL). It also includes connected trucks that can travel in platoons (close convoy) using V2V technology: platooning has been the subject of European research[xix] and been demonstrated on roads in Europe in 2016 and will be trialled on UK roads in 2017. [xx] 

These trials are generally government funded and aim to test out the technology but also the practicality of introducing it on roads, including public reaction. For example, the GATEway project in London was set up with an outcome of advising industry and policy-makers on understanding the implications of autonomous vehicles and how to deliver a safe testing environment in the UK." Its objectives were to: demonstrate a safe and efficient integration of a sophisticated autonomous transport system into a complex and real environment; generate valuable, exploitable knowledge of the systems required to host and test autonomous vehicles; understand technical, cultural, societal and legal challenges and barriers; create a valid test bed in the heart of London; inspire industry and public involvement and place the UK at the forefront of the global autonomous vehicle market.

What vehicle manufacturers are doing
Many leading vehicle manufacturers make confident statements about their ability to provide the technology for full automation. “Today's discussion no longer revolves around whether the technology will deliver on its promise but whether people want what the technology can deliver and whether society and legislators are ready for this "revolution in automobility.” (Mercedes-Benz[xxiii])

The electric car manufacturer Tesla is designing its cars with a driverless future in mind and providing users with updates of software that they can download themselves, while also warning that this doesn't negate the need for driver attention.

More traditional, long-established vehicle manufacturers are progressively adding Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to their vehicles, that use sensor technology and can respond on behalf of the driver (but still require a driver to be attentive), moving their models in the direction of full automation. These systems largely fall outside test approval legislation and can therefore, at present, be added without any government-approved independent verification that they meet any particular safety standard. Some of these systems are proven to be useful for safety; others have variable advantages. Read more at Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.

 

 

 


End notes

[i] 1960’s Citroen DS Driverless Vehicle Test, Sunday Times Driving, 2013
[ii] Google cars drive themselves: in traffic, New York Times, 2010
[iii] Google Self Driving Car, undated
[iv] Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, The Pathway to Driverless Cars: summary report and action plan, February 2015
[v] Greenwich automated transport environment, GATEway project
[vi] Venturer Cars
[vii] Catapult Transport Systems, Driverless pods
[viii] Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, The Pathway for Driverless Cars: a code of practice for testing, 2015
[ix] CITS platform, Final report, January 2016
[x] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driverless-cars-technology-receives-20-million-boost
[xi] UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UKCITE) Smart Mobility
[xii] UK Smart Mobility, Living Lab
[xiii] Department for Transport, Trials of wirelessly connected vehicles and driverless cars, 2016 
[xiv] Highways England, Innovation, Technology and Research strategy, 2016
[xv] European Truck Platooning, European Truck Platooning Problem, 2016
[xvi] SMMT, SAE International Standard J3016: Overview  
[xvii] US Department of Transportation, V2V communication technology fact sheet, 2014
[xviii] Greenwich automated transport environment, GATEway project
[xix] SARTRE project, Platooned traffic can be integrated with other road users, 2012
[xx] European Truck Platooning, European Truck Platooning Problem, 2016 
[xxi] The Pathway to Driverless Cars: summary report and action plan, February 2015
[xxii] The Pathway to Driverless Cars: summary report and action plan, February 2015
[xxiii] Autonomous Driving, Daimler 
[xxiv] Greenwich automated transport environment, GATEway project
[xxv] Tesla website https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/autopilot

 


Page updated: October 2016


Birmingham Northfield MP wins national road safety award

News from Brake
news@brake.org.uk
Monday, 25 September 2017

Richard Burden, MP for Birmingham Northfield, has today been awarded a parliamentarian road safety award by charity Brake and Direct Line.

The award recognises Richard’s long-standing involvement in transport and his commitment to road safety, particularly during his time as Shadow Transport Minister between 2013 and 2017. Richard has established himself as a strong supporter of the transport safety agenda across the years; promoting new vehicle technologies and calling for tougher law enforcement and sentencing.

As MP for a vehicle manufacturing heartland, Richard Burden has strong connections to vehicle development, and has consistently urged the industry to develop safe, sustainable and fair practices. Safe vehicles are a vital part of the safe systems agenda that works towards a future with zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.  

Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Richard is a worthy winner of this parliamentarian road safety award. Improved vehicle safety standards are vital to reducing needless deaths and serious injuries on the road. His tireless work to raise the safety bar of new vehicles is to be applauded, alongside his numerous achievements in his four years as Shadow Transport Minister."

Accepting his award, Richard Burden MP said: “I want to thank Brake and Direct Line for selecting me for a parliamentary road safety award which I feel honoured to receive. Progress in vehicle design and the rapid technological advancement in intelligent, connected and automated control systems have real potential to help make our roads safer. Together with action to promote best practice in road design, road user education and more effective enforcement of regulations, they can and do save lives.

"Much has been achieved but every person killed or injured on our roads is one too many. That should remind us all of our continuing responsibility to identify what more we can do to make the vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads a reality. I pay tribute to Brake and Direct Line for the work they do make our roads safer and to promote awareness amongst road users.” 

[ENDS]

Notes to editors: 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties 

About Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or online.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

Brake comments as Government announces winners of funding to upgrade testing infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology

News from Brake
Thursday, 19 October 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has welcomed the announcement today regarding continued testing of technologies relating to the development of autonomous vehicles and their promised potential benefits for safety and the environment.

Brake's director of campaigns, Jason Wakeford, says: “Most collisions involve driver error as a causation factor, and while full vehicle automation clearly presents many major challenges still and is not yet with us, the technological strides happening today on the road towards automation are life-saving. High-spec vehicles already on the market are being fitted with a range of technologies including sensors that can detect pedestrians and cyclists in certain situations and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a collision. Such vital technologies should continue to be advanced and legislated as soon as possible. Continued autonomous vehicle trials here in the UK helps encourage the flourishing and development of such technologies.  

“Alongside the development of vehicle automation, city planners must also protect and increase available and segregated space for people on foot and bicycles. If this doesn’t happen, there is a real risk that our cities and towns will, in the future, be over-run with automated vehicles. To be active, healthy and sociable, people need to walk and cycle and be given places to do it away from traffic, whether that traffic is automated or not. Vehicle manufacturers have suggested that automation will free up urban space, for example because it is possible there will be fewer parked cars. If that becomes a reality, this released space could and should be given back to the people in the form of segregated cycle paths and foot paths, to make our urban environments great places to be.”  

/ENDS

Notes to editors

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/winners-of-51-million-government-competition-to-develop-world-leading-self-driving-car-testing-infrastructure-unveiled

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boost-for-electric-and-driverless-car-industry-as-government-drives-forward-green-transport-revolution 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

 

Brake comments on huge leap forward for EU road safety

News from Brake
Thursday 17 May 2018
 
The European Commission has announced details of its Third Mobility Package. The package is wide-ranging and includes: a target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on EU roads by 50% between 2020 and 2030; a proposal that within 3 years all new models introduced on the market must have 11 advanced safety features, such as advanced emergency braking, lane-keeping system, over-ridable intelligent speed assistance or driver's distraction recognition [1].
 
Commenting on the announcement, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “This proposal is hugely significant, marking the next chapter in European road safety and putting us back on the path to vision zero – a world with zero road deaths and serious injuries.
 
“Every day, five people in the UK are killed and more than 65 seriously injured in road crashes, causing untold devastation to families across the country. These proposals will get the latest lifesaving vehicle technologies on our roads, a move long called for Brake, preventing crashes and helping reduce their impact. It is now up to the UK Government, and others across the EU, to ensure this proposal becomes law and they must deliver.
 
“Targets for a 50% reduction in EU road deaths and serious injuries between 2020 and 2030 are welcome and a positive step towards vision zero. UK road safety improvement has stalled in recent years and yet a number of proven road safety policy options remain unexplored. We urge the UK to follow the EU’s lead and implement national road safety targets, focusing the mind and helping push forward proven road safety measures.”
 
[ENDS]

Notes to editors 

[1] Third Mobility Package details here.
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake policy briefing: managed motorways

24 January 2014

The Highways Agency is extending the use of managed or 'smart' motorways in the UK, which use technology to monitor and control traffic in response to congestion, bad weather and crashes. Managed motorways include:

  • variable speed limits to reduce maximum speeds and maintain traffic flow in congested periods or bad conditions;
  • CCTV and sensors enabling regional control centres to close, open and change the speed limit of lanes individually to react to conditions or crashes, using overhead signs;
  • and on some stretches, opening the hard shoulder to traffic during busy periods, with emergency refuges provided instead.

The Highways Agency's plans to extend managed motorways now include the introduction of sections with 'all lane running' on parts of the M1, M3, M6, M25, M60 and M62. This means all lanes are open for traffic and there is no hard shoulder at any time for drivers to pull onto in an emergency. Instead, they will have to attempt to leave the motorway or pull into one of the refuge areas that will be provided every 1.5 miles, or onto the verge or even central reservation if this is not possible.

The all lane running proposal differs from existing managed motorways. Most existing managed motorways are either 'controlled motorways', where the hard shoulder is never opened, or use 'hard shoulder running', meaning the hard shoulder is opened to traffic only at busy times.

Brake supports controlled motorways with variable speed limits as they involve close monitoring and control of traffic and reduction of top speeds in busy periods and bad conditions, which has a positive effect on safety. Research has proven lower speeds mean fewer and less serious crashes [1]; a 1% reduction in speed causes a 4% reduction in fatal crashes [2]. Studies suggest that managed motorways deliver safety improvements as a result of the more closely controlled and monitored environment created by regular speed signals and CCTV [3].

However, Brake has serious concerns about the dangers of removing the hard shoulder, especially on a permanent basis through all lane running. The Highways Agency has indicated through the media that it only expects half of people who break down on these all lane running stretches will be able to make it to refuge or off the motorway. Brake is concerned this will leave many people who break down perilously exposed to fast moving traffic. Close monitoring will allow control centres to react to stationary vehicles by closing the lane, but Brake is concerned there will inevitably be a delay before this happens, particularly given indications that not all drivers fully understand and immediately obey lane closure signs. The lack of a hard shoulder could also cause potentially deadly delays in the arrival of emergency service vehicles at crashes.

A managed motorway pilot on the M42, which included hard-shoulder running in busy times, has been credited by the Highways Agency with reducing congestion and reducing crashes by 55.7% [4]. However, as stated above, this is likely due to the variable speed limits and controlled environment, and this pilot differs to what is now being proposed. Refuges are provided much more regularly on the M42 (every 500-800 metres) than is proposed for all lane running motorways, and the hard shoulder is only opened to traffic during busy periods, not round-the-clock as is now proposed. Brake is concerned that the evidence is too limited to show whether the safety gains of variable speed limits and close traffic control are enough to compensate for the possible risks of all lane running [5].

Brake believes the removal of the hard shoulder, temporarily or permanently, risks reducing or cancelling out the improvements in road safety that can be achieved through the other elements of managed motorways. Any crashes or casualties that result from all lane running will not only cause horrendous and needless suffering, but could also negate the economic benefits of managed motorways by causing more motorway closures, which already cost £1 billion per year [6], and by increasing the human and public services costs of crashes and casualties, estimated to be £1.9 million per fatal crash [7].

However, Brake fully supports the rolling out of managed motorways incorporating variable speed limits and traffic monitoring and control, without hard shoulder running, given indications that these measures significantly improve safety as well as traffic flow.

End notes
[1] New Directions in Speed Management: A Review of Policy, Department for Transport, 2000
[2] Managing Speed: Towards Safe and Sustainable Road Transport, European Transport Safety Council
[3] Managed Motorways: Experience from the UK, IBI Group, 2012
[4] M42 MM Monitoring and Evaluation: Three Year Safety Review, Highways Agency, 2011
[5] M42 MM Monitoring and Evaluation: Three Year Safety Review, Highways Agency, 2011
[6] Tackling £1 billion cost of motorway closures, Department for Transport, 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tackling-1billion-cost-of-motorway-closures
[7] A valuation of road accidents and casualties in Great Britain in 2012, Department for Transport, 2012

 

Brake welcomes MEPs' calls for improved car safety standards

News from Brake
Thursday, 12 October 2017
news@brake.org.uk

The European Parliament’s Transport Committee has demanded that new cars be fitted with a range of life-saving technologies as standard, including automated emergency braking systems, intelligent speed assistance and seatbelt reminders in all seats.

In a non-binding resolution responding to a report by the European Commission, ‘Saving Lives: Boosting Car Safety in the EU’, adopted today in Brussels, the committee said that “more effective measures” are needed to reach a goal of “no fatalities”.

Last year, the European Commission published a list of 19 safety technologies that it is considering making mandatory. Brake recently led a coalition of NGOs and industry bodies in writing to UK Roads Minister, Jesse Norman MP, urging the Department for Transport to support these measures and champion continued improvements under UK legislation following Brexit.

The technologies under consideration for new cars include automated emergency braking systems (AEBS) and intelligent speed assistance (ISA) – an overridable system for helping drivers keep within the speed limit – as well as updates to crash-testing requirements to protect vehicle occupants and people outside vehicles. The EC is also considering measures specifically for lorries, to protect people on foot and bicycles, including improvements to lorry drivers’ direct vision.

The Transport Committee has called for new legislation to be proposed by the European Commission no later than the first quarter of next year.

Commenting on today's resolution, Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Vehicle safety standards were last updated in 2009 and, in light of significant advances in technology since then, improved life-saving safety measures should be fitted to new vehicles as standard.

"Today's resolution from MEPs is warmly welcomed. Recent UK government statistics show that almost 1,800 people were killed in collisions last year, a rise of four per cent from 2015 and the highest annual total since 2011. Improved minimum standards for new vehicles is essential to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

"We continue to call on the UK government to ensure its voice is heard in Europe, supporting the introduction of all 19 safety measures listed in the EC’s December 2016 report, and ensuring these measures are retained and further developed after Brexit.

"Improved vehicle standards, along with better investigation of the causes of crashes and injuries, are crucial to deliver the 'safe system' approach adopted by Britain, driving towards the ultimate target of zero road deaths."

[Ends]

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Charity calls on employers: take advantage of technology to protect pedestrians and cyclists

Thursday 28 May 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

A report released today (28 May 2015) by Brake, the road safety charity, and Licence Bureau, has found many employers with vehicle fleets are not taking advantage of new technologies to protect vulnerable road users. Despite the potential to help drivers see pedestrians and cyclists and reduce casualties, only one in five HGV operators surveyed (20%) have rear-facing cameras on all vehicles, one in 12 (8%) have side-facing cameras on all vehicles, and one in eight (12%) have side sensors on all vehicles.

Brake is appealing to employers to follow best practice advice and implement the latest safety technology suitable for their vehicles, to protect other road users and deliver the business benefits of reduced crashes, bumps and scrapes and lower insurance premiums.

The report found HGV safety technologies that are mandatory under European law, such as underrun protection and wide-angle lenses, are present on almost all vehicles. Hence Brake is calling for more comprehensive regulation to ensure the widespread take up of technologies such as automatically moving mirrors, side-view cameras and side sensors, which can be of benefit in preventing needless death and injuries yet are currently only present on a minority of vehicle fleets.

With at least a quarter (24%) of road deaths and serious injuries involving a vehicle being driven for work [1], there is a clear need for employers to do more to improve the safety of their vehicles. HGVs specifically make up only 5% of vehicles on UK roads, yet are involved in a quarter (23%) of cyclist deaths and one in seven (13%) of pedestrian deaths. In 2013, 78 people on foot or bike were killed by HGVs.

The report also indicates that while safety management technologies such as telematics are becoming widespread, there is scope for employers with fleets of all vehicle types to make far greater use of them. Half of operators surveyed (49%) do not use telematics at all, and many of those who do report not making full use of their systems. Brake is highlighting that while there is an initial cost for such measures, effective safety technology like telematics pays for itself through reduced incidents and insurance premiums: many report recouping costs within a year and seeing long-term gains.

The report also highlighted the negative impact of certain forms of technology, particularly the worrying prevalence of hands-free mobile phone kits in employer vehicles. Hands-free kits were present in some, most or all vehicles in two thirds (68%) of HGV fleets and four in five (80%) cars fleets surveyed. Only 4% of employers make use of apps that prevent mobile phone use behind the wheel. Brake warns that using a mobile at the wheel, even with a hands-free kit, has a similar effect on reactions to drink driving [3], and makes you four times more likely to be in a crash that causes injury [4].

Employers can access Brake’s expert guidance by ordering a copy of the report, which includes advice for companies, and becoming a member of Brake Professional at http://www.brakepro.org/survey2015pt1

Dr Tom Fisher, senior research and communications officer at Brake, said: “Employers whose staff drive for work have a duty of care both to their own employees and other road users. While not a panacea, technology can play a big part in helping them improve safety and exercise that duty, so it is disappointing to see that so many are not taking full advantage of new safety technologies on offer. Blind spot devices and safety management kit like telematics have huge potential to reduce crashes and casualties, and bring down associated costs for the operator. Brake urges all fleet operators to go beyond the bare legal minimum to ensure their vehicles and drivers are as safe as possible, especially in safeguarding our most vulnerable road users. We can offer support and advice, through our Brake Professionals scheme, on how best to do this. Brake is also urging government to put in place more comprehensive minimum safety standards, as it is clear this is the most effective way to ensure the widespread adoption of vital safety technologies.”

Les Owen, compliance consultant at Licence Bureau, said: “The Brake survey provides fleet operators with lots of good data and advice. Surely it is obvious that the cost of a crash (average in the UK is over £800 for all vehicles) makes it sensible to consider fitting some of the safety technology items. The key features for fleets must be to avoid drivers using mobile phones; telematics to provide fleet managers with data they can sample (rather than look at every one) to offer driving advice where needed; and safety standard mirrors with items for HGVs to reduce risks to vulnerable road users. One serious crash or fatal collision can lead to a lifetime of problems for drivers and managers alike so doing more to avoid them is a no-brainer. Finally, implementing good policies, which are reviewed with drivers to provide learning opportunities and reminders of company objectives, is good practice. Writing a policy and not doing anything with it is just as bad as not having one.”

Brake’s advice for employers

Technology alone is not a panacea for road safety; safe driver behaviour and risk management policies and procedures are essential within fleets. Yet technology can form a vital part of the road risk management mix, and greatly aid safe driving, vehicles and journeys.

Fleet operators should be aware of and comply with laws to help protect vulnerable road users. Under EU law, trucks weighing more than 3.5 tonnes are legally required to have some safety devices fitted, including extra mirrors and under-run guards. Similar requirements exist in many other jurisdictions worldwide.

Where safety devices are not legally required, fleet managers should still consider fitting them to ensure their vehicles are as safe as possible.

Wide-angle and blind spot mirrors, CCTV, rear, front and side sensors, automatic side mirrors, and reversing alarms are available for various types of vehicle. Fleet operators should implement devices suitable to their vehicle types.

When selecting vehicles to lease or buy, or advising employees who use their own vehicles for work, fleet managers should select vehicles with smaller blind spots or blind spot-minimising technology fitted, and features designed to minimise the harm to vulnerable road users in a collision.

Fleet managers should keep up-to-date with the latest technology in this fast-moving area, and implement new technologies where available and appropriate. Information on the latest research and developments is available through Brake’s fortnightly Target Zero email newsletter tosubscribers, and in Brake’sresearch library.

Brake’s survey report gives further guidance and information on technology. Employers can order the report at http://www.brakepro.org/survey2015pt1.

Brake advises and supports companies to manage their road risk through itsBrake Professionals scheme. The survey report is available for free tomembers, or can be purchased for £5 by non-members. Special offer: the first 25 non-members to request the report through ouronline form get a copy for FREE.

About the report

The survey results come from Brake and Licence Bureau’s Fleet Safety Survey Report Part One: Technology, released today (Thursday 28 May 2015). 131 organisations that employ drivers completed the online survey, representing nearly 26,000 vehicles and 40,000 people driving for work.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014

[2] Ibid

[3]Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009

[4]Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005

Driver advice: distractions

Silentthumb Drivers can Pledge to– never make or take calls, or text, when driving. Put their phone out of sight and on silent, and stay focused on the road. 

Everyone can Pledge to– never chatting on the phone to someone who's driving, or distracting a driver.

Drive smart

Driving is one of the most complicated and risky tasks many of us do on a regular basis. It requires our full concentration, and both our hands, to drive safely.

If you think you can multi-task at the wheel, you’re kidding yourself and putting people in danger. If you use a mobile phone, eat, fiddle with a stereo, do your make up, or do anything else that takes your eyes and mind off the road or your hands off the wheel, you’re significantly increasing your chances of being involved in a crash.

Mobile phones

phoneguyMore and more people own smart phones, and some find it hard to switch off, even for a minute. But you should never use your phone at the wheel.

Making or taking calls, texting, using the internet or checking social media while driving is incredibly risky. All these things are a bit like drink-driving: they slow your reaction times and hinder your control, and could easily cost you or someone else their life. Research shows if you are on the phone when driving your reactions are 50% slower and your crash risk is four times higher than normal.

This applies to hands-free kits too. Despite it currently being legal in the UK to make or take calls using a hands-free kit while driving, research proves it’s not a safe option. Hands-free kits are almost as risky as holding the phone to your ear, because it’s the distraction of the conversation that’s the main danger.

The only way to avoid dangerous distraction from your phone is to switch it to silent, and put it out of sight and reach when you're driving.

On long journeys, stop for breaks every two hours, and check your messages then. If you need to work or keep in contact on a long journey, take public transport instead, which is safer, better for the environment and means you can get work done.

You can also help other drivers to stay safe by refusing to speak to someone on the phone while they’re driving. If someone picks up while they’re driving, end the call as quickly as you can. It could save their life.

Sat-navs

If you use a sat-nav, programme it before starting your journey and never while driving. Fiddling with the sat-nav will take your eyes and mind off the road with potentially lethal consequences.

Remember, it's there to help you keep focused on driving rather than worry about directions, but it's not there to make all the decisions for you. You still need to look at signs, particularly those warning of hazards or speed limits, and watch for people and hazards.eating2

Eating at the wheel

Eating and drinking on the move might seem harmless but research shows it impacts on your ability to react quickly. Eating at the wheel often means taking your eyes, hands and mind off the road, and it only takes a small lapse in concentration for a devastating crash to occur. Eating should be a pleasure, so take the time out to savour your meals when you're not driving.

rebekkahvidthumb

Rebekka was knocked down and killed age 11 by a car that mounted the pavement. The driver had been making a call on his mobile phone. Hit play to hear Rebekka’s tragic story. Visit Brake’s Youtube channel for more videos.

 Page updated May 2016

Driver distractions

Key facts

  • In 2016, out of 1445 fatal crashes in Britain that resulted in one or more deaths, the police recorded 397 incidences of the contributory factor of “failure to look” and a further 140 incidences of the contributory factors of driver in-vehicle distractions, distractions outside the vehicle, and phone use. [1]
  • Out of 11,000 drivers observed by academics conducting a study on roads in St Albans, England, 1 in 6 were found to be engaged in a distracting activity, such as talking on a phone, or to a passenger, or smoking. The study found younger drivers more likely to be engaged in distracting activities. [2]
  • A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line revealed a third of drivers admit to eating at the wheel and one in 10 suffered a near-miss because they were distracted by food while driving [3].

Introduction

Driving requires the full attention of the driver at all times. Hazards can arise at any time, and vehicles can travel many metres in a short amount of time. Yet many drivers are distracted and inattentive.

In 2016, out of 1445 fatal crashes in Britain that resulted in one or more deaths, the police recorded 397 incidences of the contributory factor of “failure to look” and a further 140 incidences of the contributory factors of driver in-vehicle distractions, distractions outside the vehicle, and phone use. [4]

Out of 11,000 drivers observed on roads in St Albans, England, 1 in 6 were found to be engaged in a distracting activity, such as talking on a phone, or to a passenger, or smoking. The 2014 Cranfield University study found younger drivers more likely to be engaged in distracting activities. [5]

A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line revealed many drivers admit to performing distracting secondary tasks. [6]

One of the most dangerous distractions is covered in more detail in our phones and screens fact page. There are many other driver distractions inside and outside the vehicle [7]. Distractions can involve any one, or more, of the below:

  • Visual (reading infotainment screens and sat navs, looking at objects and people outside the vehicle unrelated to the driving task);
  • Mental (thinking about something else, conversations with passengers and phone calls);
  • Auditory (listening to someone on the phone, music and noises outside the vehicle); and
  • Physical (typing, smoking, eating and drinking). [8] [9]

Distractions impede driver ability to spot hazards and react in time. It is about overloading a driver with too much to do and breakdowns in their attention. [10] Distractions vary in effect on drivers, depending on timing, intensity, duration, frequency, resumability (the extent to which the driving task can be halted and resumed efficiently) and the ‘hang-over effect’ (the mental distraction that remains once a task is completed). [11]

Any road user can become distracted, including vulnerable road users (for example, people on foot or bicycle) [12] [13]. This fact emphasises the importance of drivers watching out for people on foot and bicycles doing unpredictable and dangerous things.

Risk of distraction and inattention

Drivers may choose to divide their attention from the task at hand because they erroneously believe they are in control and have time to react if danger arises. There is academic evidence that drivers cannot divide their attention between driving and a secondary task without significantly reducing their driving performance. They also cannot estimate their own levels of distraction effectively. [14]

Academics have also pointed to evidence of drivers falling into “consequence traps” and “conditioning traps”. A consequence trap is when a driver knows the risk, but succumbs to an overriding temptation of an immediate reward (for example reaching for a flask of coffee, or changing the music from a track they don’t like). A conditioning trap is when a driver knows the risk, but has “got away with it” on numerous occasions before, so takes the risk again on the presumption that nothing bad will happen this time either.[15]

In-vehicle distractions

As well as phones and screens, a selection of other causes of distraction are listed below.

Read more: Read our fact-page on on driver distraction caused by mobile phones and screens

Driver mindset

When using roads, driver thoughts can easily wander to things other than the safety of the task at hand. Driving, particularly on a familiar route, can be perceived as something we can do on semi-automatic, or a car can become a place where we consciously decide to “think about other things”, such as work or relationships, or reflect on a memory.  This can be particularly the case in a “busy world” where there is little “down time” to be on our own and sit with our own thoughts. In one study, more than half of drivers’ thoughts (“what are you thinking about?”) were on subjects unrelated to driving. [16]

Vehicle technology

Increasingly, vehicles, particularly the most high-end vehicles, are being fitted with automated technology. Academics warn that certain kinds of automated technology, that aim to remove driving demands, “may tempt drivers to engage in distracting activities” [17] They may encourage ‘disengagement’ with the driving task leading to inattention (such as the driver’s mind wandering or purposely choosing to do something else) [18] and difficulty then reengaging in time should a hazard arise.

For example, automated “cruise control” systems aim to enable the vehicle to maintain speed and distance from a vehicle in front. Manufacturers warn drivers these systems require driver attention at all times. A driver died in the USA when their Tesla collided with a truck. Tesla said: "neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied." [19]

Music

As an auditory distraction, music reduces driver attention on the road. There is evidence that the more complex/loud the music is, the greater the distraction. [20] Recent studies have suggested that upbeat music increases both driver error and aggressive driving. [21]

Eating and drinking

Eating and drinking can be both a cognitive distraction and a physical distraction involving removing at least one hand from the wheel [22]. A study has shown eating or drinking at the wheel can increase driver reaction times by 44% [23]. A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line revealed a third of drivers admit to eating at the wheel and one in 10 had suffered a near-miss because they were distracted by food while driving. The worst offenders are drivers aged 25-34, with more than half of drivers (55%) in this age bracket admitting to unwrapping and eating food at the wheel. [24] Past research has suggested drivers who eat and drink at the wheel can be twice as likely to crash [25].

Smoking

Several studies [26] have found smoking while driving increases crash risk. Accessing and lighting a cigarette within the car causes physical and mental distraction. The smoke from the lit cigarette, from the driver or passenger, could impair the driver’s vision, and a cigarette falling into the driver’s lap or onto a seat could cause distraction.

Research into the proportion of drivers in the UK engaging in distracting behaviour when behind the wheel revealed smoking was the second most frequently observed distraction during the study, second only to ‘talking to a passenger’.[27]

Driver inattention

A driver may develop a habit of failing to look properly, particularly on a route that is familiar to them and often quiet / empty of traffic, but lack ‘metacognitive awareness’ about their behaviour (they think they look properly). Their attention may be restricted, diverted, misprioritised, neglected or cursory. [28]

It is common to hear that an experienced driver “looked but didn’t see”. Studies of experienced drivers have found the attention they give to motorcycles (in terms of duration of gaze) is less than the length of gaze they give to cars. Novice drivers, by contrast, were found to give cars and motorcycles equal “gaze lengths”, demonstrative of more care. [29]

This may explain why motorcyclists involved in crashes are often hit by drivers pulling out from side junctions. Academics describe the motorcycle, in such an incident, as a “low spatial frequency” object (a narrow object that is blurred into the background unless carefully sought). It is harder to see, and requires a longer fixation by the driver to see it. [30]

Familiarity of a route may also lead to drivers perhaps actively looking at other things to keep themselves aroused, and missing hazards for that reason. A study of the brain patterns of police drivers undertaking the same simulated drive twice, found a “significant reduction in attentional areas of the brain” and concluded route familiarity reduces activation in the brain [31]. A similar study tested the attention of a driving instructor undertaking a real road journey 28 times, and found a “decrease in attention to safety-relevant aspects”. [32]

As well as this “inattentional blindness” (the tendency not to see unattended things), there is an additional psychological blindness called “change blindness”. This is when someone is familiar with a particular situation, and doesn’t notice when that situation changes (for example, when a road sign is changed). It has been found that people have a much better chance of noticing change if they focus for longer, and that more familiarity with a road leads to a shorter glance duration and heightened risk. [33]

Age and distraction

Recent studies have shown younger drivers (17-29) and older drivers (over 65) have a significantly and consistently higher risk of causing a road crash due to distracted driving, and certain types of driver distraction have a greater influence on these age groups than any other [34].

While visual distractions affect drivers of all ages, younger drivers are more likely to have their driving performance negatively affected by auditory distractions, e.g. listening to music. [35]

Younger drivers are also more likely to succumb to other distractions within the vehicle including checking social media, messaging, or paying attention to peer passengers. Recent studies have suggested the presence of a peer passenger can be associated with a reduction in visual scanning, by male drivers in particular, due to cognitive distraction triggered by either the physical presence of the passenger or the perceived expectations of the passenger. [36] 

Warning and catching distracted drivers.

DDDR systems aim to detect the presence of distraction (or fatigue) and send a warning to the driver to stop and rest. Eye movements can be monitored by a camera pointed at the driver. This information can be combined with detection of wider head movements. Levels of heart rate and brain function are also possible to monitor. Systems monitoring people in such ways (particularly eye movements) and then issuing a warning are commonly available as an aftermarket product, marketed to fleet operators. 

Steering and braking patterns can also give some indication of inattention, and some new vehicles come fitted with DDDR systems that monitor these patterns and warn the driver.

Increasingly, companies with at-work drivers are fitting their vehicles with cameras that watch the driver. In October 2016, lorry driver Thomasz Kroker was jailed for killing four people after ploughing into their car while changing music on his phone; his actions were recorded on camera, providing evidence of his distraction to the police and courts.


End notes

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, Table RAS50001
[2] Sullman, M, A roadside study of observable driver distractions, Cranfield University, 2014
[3] Eating at the Wheel, Brake and Direct Line Survey, 2016
[4] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, Table RAS50001
[5] Sullman, M, A roadside study of observable driver distractions, Cranfield University, 2014
[6] Eating at the Wheel, Brake and Direct Line Survey, 2016
[7] Beanland, V. et al, Driver inattention and driver distraction in serious casualty crashes: data from the Australian National Crash In-depth Study, 2013
[8] Young, K, et al, Driver Distraction: a review of the Literature, 2003
[9] Highway Code: rules 148-150, Department for Transport
[10] Lee, J., Dynamics of driver distraction: the process of engaging and disengaging, 2014
[11] Kinnear, N. et al, Understanding how drivers learn to anticipate risk on the road: A laboratory experiment of affective anticipation of road hazards, 2013
[12] Fitzpatrick, C. et al, The prevalence of distracted walking and its effect on driver behaviour, 2016
[13] Boufous, S. et al, Circumstances of on-road single-vehicle cyclist crashes in the Australian Capital Territory, 2015
[14] Young, K. et al, Driver distraction: theory, effects and mitigation, 2008
[15] Lee, J., Dynamics of driver distraction: the process of engaging and disengaging, 2014
[16] Nicola Starkey, University of Waikato, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, Brisbane, 2016
[17] Merat, N., & Lee, J. D., Preface to the Special Section on Human Factors and Automation in Vehicles: Designing highly automated vehicles with the driver in mind, Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 54(5), 681–686. 2012
[18] Lee, J., Dynamics of driver distraction: the process of engaging and disengaging, 2014
[19] A tragic loss, Tesla, 2016
[20] Brodsky, W., The effects of music tempo on simulating driving performance on simulated driving performance and vehicular behaviour, 2001
[21] Brodsky, W & Slor, Z., Background music as a risk factor for distraction among young novice drivers, 2012
[22] Jamson, S., Driving with one hand on the wheel: a fatal distraction, 2012
[23] Eating at the Wheel, Brake and Direct Line Survey, 2016
[24] Ibid
[25] Young, M. et al, Crash dieting: the effects of eating and drinking on driving performance, 2008
[26] Young, K, et al, Driver Distraction: a review of the Literature, 2003
[27] Sullman, M., An observational study of driver distraction in England, 2012
[28] Beanland, V. & Chan, EHC., The relationship between sustained inattentional blindness and working memory capacity, 2016
[29] David Crundall, Nottingham Trent University, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, Brisbane, 2016
[30] Ibid
[31] Mader et al, 2009, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, Brisbane, 2016
[32] David Crundall, Nottingham Trent University, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, Brisbane, 2016
[33] Marieke Martens, University of Twente, International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, Brisbane, 2016
[34] Guo, F. et al, 2017, The effects of age on crash risk associated with driver distraction, International Journal of Epidemiology, 46:1, Pages 258–265
[35] Brodsky, W. & Slor, Z. Background music as a risk factor for distraction among young novice drivers, 2012
[36] Beanland, V., et al. Driver inattention and driver distraction in serious casualty crashes: data from the Australian National Crash In-depth Study, 2013

Page last updated: November 2016

Drivers support EU move to fit lifesaving vehicle technologies as standard

News from Brake
Thursday 17 May 2018
 
Developments in the safety of our roads took a huge leap forward today, with a landmark EU proposal to mandate the fitting of lifesaving technologies, including Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) and Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), in all new cars [1]. A survey of more than 2000 drivers by Brake and Direct Line [2] has found overwhelming support for the move, with 9 in 10 drivers agreeing that all new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard [3].
 
The proposal is part of the European Commission’s (EC) Third Mobility Package [4]. A set of measures with the objective of allowing all drivers to benefit from safer traffic, less polluting vehicles and more advanced technological solutions.
 
The case to mandate these lifesaving technologies, rather than rely upon their purchase as optional extras, is highlighted by the current lack of awareness of AEB and ISA, and their limited fitting in cars.
 
  • 58% of drivers said they didn’t know what AEB was. When the technology was explained, only 15% thought their car was fitted with AEB, with 12% unsure.
  • 67% of drivers said they didn’t know what ISA was. When the technology was explained, only 15% thought their car was fitted with ISA, with 7% unsure.

 This contradiction between drivers’ desire for safety features and their reluctance to purchase them as optional extras was further highlighted in the survey, bolstering the Commission’s case that mandating these technologies is the only effective way to get them on our roads and saving lives.

  •  9 in 10 drivers agree that all new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard. However, the majority of drivers said if they were buying a new car, they would not spend more to ensure it had AEB or ISA technology [5].

 Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said:

“These technologies are proven to save lives, so this announcement should be warmly welcomed by all who are truly committed to improving road safety. Drivers want their vehicles to be safe, but the reality is they rarely opt to spend more on safety features as optional extras. This decision puts the onus for safety back on the car manufacturers and in one swoop, will dramatically improve the safety of our roads forever.”
 
Neil Ingram, Head of Motor Product Management at Direct Line, said:
“Technological advancements in vehicle safety have the ability to save countless lives, however, when someone purchases a new car they are not always willing to pay extra for safety features. With improvements in the road casualty rate stalling, the fitting of AEB and ISA as standard on all new cars has the potential to be the step-change in road safety we have been looking for. Such technologies can not only reduce the needless deaths and injuries on our roads, but also continue the progression and growth, as well as driver acceptance, of semi autonomous vehicles and the benefits in safety they can bring.”
 
 [ENDS]
 
 Notes to editors
 
[1] The full list of technologies proposed by the Commission can be found here.
Advanced (or Autonomous) Emergency Braking (AEB) systems can help avoid crashes or mitigate their severity by warning the driver and supporting braking response and/or applying the brakes independently of the driver.
Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) helps a driver keep within speed limits by warning the driver when the speed limit is exceeded, or by actively reducing the vehicle’s speed.
 
[2] Survey of 2010 drivers, conducted by Surveygoo in March 2018, on behalf of Brake and Direct Line, to find out drivers’ views on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
 
[3] Excerpt from Brake and Direct Line survey to find out drivers’ views on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
 
Rate your agreement with the following sentence:
“All new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard”

Strongly agree

54.83 %

Agree

33.98 %

Disagree

5.92 %

Strongly disagree

0.75 %

I don't know

 
 
 
[4] Detail of Third Mobility Package here. The EC’s ‘safe mobility’ initiative, along with proposing mandatory fitting of these Advanced Driver Assistance technologies on modern vehicles, also proposes greater investment in road infrastructure safety. The Commission has stated that these two measures could save up to 10,500 lives and avoid close to 60,000 injuries across the EU over 2020-2030.
 
[5] Excerpt from Brake and Direct Line survey to find out drivers’ views on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) – full details available upon request
  • Just 43% of drivers said that if they were buying a new car, they would spend more to ensure it had AEB.
  • Just 42% of drivers said that if they were buying a new car, they would spend more to ensure it had ISA.

 

About Brake
 Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
 
About Direct Line
Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or online.
 
Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
 
Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

Fiona Hall, MEP for the North East, November 2010

fionahallBrake and Direct Line have awarded Fiona Hall, MEP for the North East, ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ award for the recognition for the campaign, ‘See me, Save me’ and in support for her efforts to improve road safety.

Fiona’s campaign, ‘See me, Save me’, calls for sensors and cameras to be fitted to lorries to reduce blindspots, which lead to many cyclist deaths and injuries in the UK and Europe. If all commercial vehicles had sensors and cameras fitted it would mean that drivers are more likely to spot vulnerable road users around their vehicle and many needless death and injuries on the road could be prevented. With a reported 2,447 cyclist killed on the roads in the EU in 2008[1], together with increasing trucking volumes, this campaign is clearly needed.

The campaign was started after the death of Eilidh Cairns from Northumberland. Eilidh was struck by a heavy goods vehicle while cycling to work in London. Since her death, her family has been continuously fighting for better road safety for cyclists. Their story struck a cord with Fiona and she is determined to do all she can to help prevent such a tragedy happening again.

On 10 November 2010, Fiona submitted a declaration to the European Union in which she asks for it to be compulsory for sensors and cameras to be fitted on heavy goods vehicles. If by the 17 February 2011 more than half of MEPs sign the declaration, the Commission will have to make proposals to change the law.

Fiona is calling for people who want to help stop these tragedies to contact their MEPs and urge them to sign WD 81. It is an EU wide campaign so anyone in Europe can support it. Click here to download a standard letter that can be emailed to your MEP. 

Eildh’s sister Kate welcomed the campaign and is calling for others to lend a hand and help ensure that others do not have to go through the same heartache as herself and her family. “If people can make a small effort by writing to MEPs it would make a big difference.”

Julie Townsend, spokesperson for road safety charity Brake said,"We must act urgently to save the many lives which are cut short each year as a result of blind spots on commercial vehicles. Every lost life is a tragedy and an unnecessary loss when simple technology, such as sensors and cameras, is available which could help prevent deaths caused by road crashes. That is why Brake is urging MEPs to sign this declaration today to help protect vulnerable road users.

Fiona Hall said:"I'm very grateful to Brake for this award and I accept it on behalf of the whole team of people who are working to make the See Me, Save Me campaign a success. I hope this encourages even more people to get involved and raises awareness of the dangers cyclists and pedestrians face on our roads.

"If people take two minutes to write to their MEPs asking them to sign the WD 81 they can help reduce those dangers and cut the number of deaths and serious injuries that are happening every single day."


 

[1] CARE Database, reports and graphics, European Commission, 2010 see, http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/statistics/care_reports_graphics/index_en.htm

Gocompare.com - Dashboard Warning Lights

Almost half of motorists don’t understand their car's dashboard warning lights

 

As colder weather and darker nights draw in, motorists must take extra precautions to ensure that their vehicles are equipped to deal with the driving hazards associated with these conditions. However, research byGocompare.com1 found that millions2 of motorists are unable to recognise the warning signs that something may be wrong with their vehicle, putting themselves and other road users at risk.

Thanks to technological advancements modern cars are packed with complex electronics and sensors that help make drivers’ lives easier, but they can also help them to better understand how their vehicle is behaving.

While manufacturers are developing new ways to help cars to talk to their drivers, it seems that their efforts may be falling on deaf ears. Research commissioned by Gocompare.com found that almost half (48%) of drivers were unable to identify their vehicles dashboard warning lights.

With the winter months bringing with them wet and icy conditions it’s crucial that drivers know when their car is trying to alert them to potential problems - such as issues with their tyres or braking systems.

Read the manual

As driving technology becomes increasingly advanced you could find that you’re not entirely familiar with you cars features.

Of those surveyed, just 40% said that they had read their car’s driver manual. While this may seem like a tedious task, your manual is filled with important information that could help you to keep your car in a good state of repair and avoid a collision.

You’ll also find information on the warning lights that appear in your vehicle and their meanings.

Click the image below to see Gocompare's infographic on vehicle warning lights.

gocompare

Your legal obligation

Motorists have a legal obligation to ensure that their car is kept in a roadworthy condition. So understanding when something is wrong with your car could help you to avoid a fine or points on your licence.

Ignoring warning lights could mean your car falling into a state of disrepair and lead to a collision, and failing to keep your car in a roadworthy condition could even invalidate yourcar insurance.

Diagnose the problem and do it yourself

Having a full working knowledge of your cars warning lights could help to save you money too. Identifying issues early means avoiding more serious problems in the long run. Many tasks – such as checking your oil level or tyre pressure – can be done at home, helping you to save a pretty penny on maintenance costs.

See Gocompare.com’s essential motoring checklist for more information on car maintenance jobs you can perform at home.

1 Between18 and 24 May, 2016, OnePoll conducted an online survey among 2,000 randomly selected car owners aged 18 and over.

2 DVLA holds records for 45.5 million active motorists in GB as of 30 September, 2014

Motorists who said they understood the meaning of their dashboard lights - 52% of 45.4 million = 23,660,000

45,500,000 – 23,660,000 = 21,850,000 motorists do not understand the meaning of their dashboard warning lights

Intelligent UK drivers say yes to life changing technology

Thursday 21 October 2015

Brake, the road safety charity, is urging the government to take steps towards introducing intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) on UK roads, after a survey carried out on behalf of the charity found almost two-thirds (63%) of drivers would be willing to let this ground-breaking technology automatically restrict their speed.

ISA technology uses GPS combined with a digital map of speed limits to keep vehicles to the posted speed limit. This technology could potentially make other speed control measures unnecessary and ensure all drivers comply with speed limits at all times, preventing thousands of needless deaths and injuries.

In the survey:

Almost a third of drivers (32%) said they would be willing to have ‘mandatory ISA’ fitted to their vehicle if it was free. This automatically decreases acceleration if the driver exceeds the speed limit, and cannot be overridden.

  • Three in ten (31%) said they would be willing to have ‘voluntary ISA’ fitted if it was free. This automatically decreases acceleration if the driver exceeds the speed limit, but can be overridden.
  • A further quarter (23%) of drivers said they would be willing to have ‘advisory ISA’ fitted, a system which alerts them when they are over the speed limit, but does not automatically reduce speed.
  • That leaves only one in seven (14%) of drivers unwilling to make use of the technology in any form.

Controlled trials of ISA have predicted voluntary ISA could reduce road deaths by 21%, and mandatory ISA could reduce deaths by 46%. Advisory ISA is far less effective, but could still reduce fatal crashes by 5% [1]. This could save 85 lives a year.

The survey found overwhelming support for the introduction of ‘telematics’, with almost three quarters (73%) of UK drivers say they would be likely or very likely to have telematics fitted in their vehicles, given the option.

Brake calls for the government to take full advantage of ISA, by producing a digital speed limit road map of the country, requiring vehicle manufacturers to equip all vehicles with ISA technology, and making ISA mandatory, introducing it with an effective marketing campaign to explain its purpose.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns at Brake, said:“ISA represents a game-changer for road safety, with the potential to make all other speed enforcement unnecessary and prevent nearly half the devastating deaths on our roads. As speed is at least an aggravating factor in almost all road crashes, this technology could make our roads much safer for everyone, and prevent thousands of senseless casualties every year if rolled out systematically. As yet, there has not been the political will to roll out ISA despite its potential. However, as these results clearly demonstrate, the willingness exists among the driving public to use ISA to make speeding on UK roads a thing of the past.”

For more facts on speed and ISA seewww.brake.org.uk/facts

About the report

The survey consisted of 1,000 drivers and was conducted by Surveygoo. Read the report.

Full results

If you had the option of intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) technology being fitted to your vehicle at no cost, would you be likely to take this up? (tick one)

  • 32% said yes – mandatory ISA
  • 31% said yes – voluntary ISA
  • 23% said yes – advisory ISA
  • 14% said no

If you had the option of telematics being fitted to your vehicle, with your insurance premiums linked to how safe you drive (i.e. your premiums could come down if you are shown to drive safely), how likely would you be to take this up? (tick one)

Telematics don’t just have safety advantages; they also offer a benefit to drivers’ wallets. With that in mind, it is unsurprising that almost three quarters (73%) of UK drivers say they would be likely or very likely to have telematics fitted in their vehicles, given the option. Two in five (40%) said they were very likely to have telematics fitted.

  • 39% said very likely
  • 34% said likely
  • 19% said unlikely
  • 8% said very unlikely

miDrive and Brake

miDrive LogomiDrive is reinventing learning-to-drive for the smartphone age and is now the largest network of independent driving instructors in the UK, matching learners with vetted, local instructors with 100% money-back guarantee on all bookings.

Brake logo no strap red

As part of their mission to create a generation of safer drivers, they have launched Anytime by miDrive - hourly learner insurance, an app for iOS and Android which offers flexible, pay-as-you-go insurance for learners to get covered to practice in friends’ and family cars prior to taking their Practical Driving Test. Find out more here.

Along with their Theory Test app (free to download here), helping learners to learn and revise for their Theory Test, miDrive offers the essential toolkit for learners, enabling them to find the best local instructor, book and manage driving lessons and track progress with their lesson plans which are based on the DVSA’s Driver's Record.

miDrive support Brake’s campaigns, especially those involving young people. miDrive’s mission is to reduce the number of road traffic collisions involving newly qualified drivers. Their goal is help learners become good, safe drivers, not just to pass their tests.

Recent studies found that 23% of 18-24 year olds had been involved in a crash whilst driving within 6 months of passing their test. Young drivers aged 17-19 only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders, yet are involved in 12% of serious and fatal crashes.

miDrive has helped more than 350,000 learners get on the roads so far.

Modern vehicles

Campaigning to place people and the planet at the heart of vehicle modernisation

The Modern Vehicles campaign embraces unstoppable developments in vehicle technology, that can save both lives and the planet, and calls on developments to be implemented in line with Brake's vision of safe, sustainable, healthy and fair transport.

What are we calling for?

  1. A raising of the bar of safety regulation on new vehicles, to prevent crashes and mitigate their outcomes.  
  2. Increased efforts by government and infrastructure providers to enable purchase and convenient refuelling of ultra-low emission vehicles. 
  3. Support and incentives for increased safe and green vehicle purchasing by the public.
  4. Increased safe and green vehicle purchasing choices by companies and organisations operating fleets. 
  5. Ensuring that the implementation of automated, connected vehicles within the UK are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair for all. This includes ensuring fair space and segregated routes for people on foot and bicycles. 

fc1 learn more

Modern Vehicles: Learn More

Read about the campaign to modernise our wheels, and follow the links to learn more.

Crash prevention (Active safety measures)

Some vehicles on Britain's roads are already partially-automated thanks to sensor technology using cameras, radar and lasers. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can give warnings, or take action for a driver; for example automatically apply brakes in an emergency. Technology can control vehicles within posted speed limits or warn drivers they are exceeding a limit. Vehicles can be fitted with systems that identify driver impairment; for example, alcohol and drowsiness detection systems. Mirror and camera systems can provide a greater range of vision for drivers; of particular benefit in the largest vehicles. While a few of these systems are legally required, many are not as yet. Go to our ADAS Fact Check. and our Alcohol and Distraction Detection Systems Fact Check

Crash protection (Passive safety measures)

It is always better to prevent a crash but crash protection systems (passive safety measures) save lives and more needs to be done to ensure passive safety developments are prioritised on vehicles from air bags that protect occupants to softer vehicle exteriors to mitigate injury to vulnerable road users. Read our fact check on passive safety measures for occupant safety, our fact check on passive safety measures on cars for the safety of vulnerable road users including people on foot and bicycles, and our Seat Belt Reminders Fact Check

EC review of vehicle safety regulations

The EC is currently revising its regulations governing minimum standards for active and passive safety measures, which affects standards of cars sold in the UK. Go to our EU Vehicle Safety Standards Review Fact Check.

Clean revolution: Ultra Low-Emission Vehicles (ULEVs)

Clean vehicles are a crucial part of cleaning up our country. Estimates place transport as causing up to a quarter of carbon emissions contributing to global warming, and it is a major cause of poor air quality from NOx and particulates, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths from respiratory conditions. The British government has a vision of every car being ULEV by 2040, and sales of ULEVs are rocketing; it's easier and cheaper to buy an electric ULEV now, thanks to a grant scheme and an increase in charging stations. The government is also encouraging take up of hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles, particularly among fleets. But ULEVs still make up a tiny fraction of vehicles on Britain's roads (just over 1%).  Read our Climate Change and Air Pollution Fact Check. Read our fact check on Diesel Cars and NOx emissions

Driverless vehicles

The future's arriving fast. Vehicles with 'auto-pilot' functions are already on our roads. Highly-automated vehicles (requiring a driver to step in only for complex driving tasks) and fully-automated vehicles (entirely driverless), ranging from small city 'pods' to large trucks on motorways, are already in circulation as prototypes and could be on Britain's roads before 2020 and replace other vehicles by 2030. In 2017, the government is aiming to change Britain's legislative framework to allow driverless vehicles. In 2017, trials will also start on Britain's public roads of fully-automated and highly-automated vehicles, "connected" through wireless technology (meaning they receive information about each other and their wider environment including road information). Trials will include platooning trucks; a convoy of trucks connected to a lead vehicle. Driverless vehicles are a reality; the challenge is to regulate them in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair for everyone.  Read our Driverless Vehicles Fact Check and Brake's position on them.

 

Passive safety measures for improved vehicle occupant safety

Key facts

• Vehicle models sold in Europe, inclusive of the UK, must meet minimum standards for the safety of occupants.
• Vehicle manufacturers must demonstrate models meet these standards by subjecting them to independently conducted and verified impact tests (commonly known as crash tests) in controlled laboratory conditions following stipulated protocols, at defined speeds and using crash test dummies.
• There are two principal impact tests currently required for cars to be sold in the EU; a frontal impact test and a side impact test. These tests, defined by UN regulations [1], are stipulated within the EU’s General Safety Regulations [2]. The GSR are the main regulations controlling the safety of all road vehicles in the European Union and govern type approval requirements.
• Vehicle manufacturers have large freedom to design vehicles however they like to meet test requirements and become type approved. Very few safety features to protect vehicle occupants in the event of a crash are specified in law. Exceptions include fitment and performance of seat belts [3] and car driver seat belt reminder warning systems [4].
• The EC is currently considering crash test improvements for occupant safety as part of its review of the General Safety Regulation. If it goes ahead, improvements are likely to be announced in 2018 [5].
• As part of the EC review of GSR, it is also considering extending the seat belt reminder requirements for car drivers to all car occupants and occupants of all other vehicles types (vans, buses, heavy goods vehicles) [6].
• Euro NCAP, a consumer-focussed organisation, has created a five-star safety rating scheme to help consumers compare the safety of cars and some light goods vehicles. Euro NCAP carries out more demanding tests than the mandatory tests and also rewards manufacturers for fitting safety features as standard [7].
• Over 85% of cars sold in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are rated highly by Euro NCAP (4 or 5 stars), proving manufacturers can easily reach standards higher than those required in mandatory tests [8].

Mandatory testing standards 

New vehicle models sold in Europe, inclusive of the UK, must meet minimum standards for occupant safety, met by passing mandatory impact tests (commonly known as crash tests) carried out or supervised by independent national testing authorities.

Different standards are set for different categories of vehicles, relating to the size, number of passengers and weight of vehicles.
These standards, and the mandatory impact test requirements, are stipulated in General Safety Regulations (EC 661/2009) (GSR). The GSR, inclusive of the regulations that have amended it (407/2011, 523/2012 and 2015/166), governs the type approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units [9].
The GSR (and the accompanying Pedestrian Safety Regulation (PSR) (EC 78/2009)) are the main regulations controlling the safety of all road vehicles in the European Union.

The impact tests are carried out in controlled laboratory conditions, at defined speeds and must follow stipulated protocols. The tests involve Anthropometric Test Devices (ATDs), commonly referred to as crash test dummies, which are equipped to record dynamic behaviour and predict likely real world injury.

Different types of ATD are used for front and side impact tests and record parameters (deflection, force, velocity and deceleration) to assess and ensure a vehicle is within the regulated minimum performance standards based on the biomechanical risk of injury.

To pass an impact test, dummies placed and seat belted in the front seats only of the car must record injury ‘metrics’ below stipulated thresholds during the test.

There are two tests vehicles must pass:


• a frontal impact test (UN Regulation 94); and
• a side impact test (UN Regulation 95).

Different world regions have their own standards however the European Union is actively seeking to harmonise as far as practicable with the UNECE regulatory framework (UNECE has 56 member states). Over the past 50 years Japan, the USA, Canada, South Korea and other countries have adopted their own vehicle safety requirements and standards.

Few mandatory occupant passive safety measures 

With limited exceptions, the fitting of particular passive safety features that aim to protect occupants is not specified in European law. This is because it is generally not permitted to mandate particular solutions or products. This means vehicle manufacturers have significant freedom to design their vehicles as they wish as long as they meet the occupant protection requirements in the mandated crash tests.

The few mandated passive features in the GSR for occupant safety relate to seat belts. They are:

• Seat belts and their anchorages, including fitment and testing (UN Regulations 14 and 16);
• Seat belt reminders for car drivers (but not for other vehicle occupants);
• ISOFIX (a compulsory anchor system for child restraints in cars) [10].

Commonly-fitted occupant passive safety measures 

If vehicle manufacturers only fitted seat belts, it would be difficult to pass the current mandatory crash tests, especially the frontal impact test. For example, manufacturers voluntarily fit an airbag in the steering wheel to pass the frontal impact test.

In order to pass the tests and improve occupant safety, manufacturers have implemented a variety of safety solutions including, most commonly:

i. Seat belt pretensioner Very early on in a collision, a seat belt pretensioner tightens the webbing, removing slack and ensuring that the occupant is ‘coupled’ or attached to the vehicle as soon as possible. This has the effect of providing the maximum stopping distance and subsequently lowers the seat belt forces, because the occupant changes velocity over a larger distance. Without pretensioners, some of the front vehicle structure deformation on impact occurs whilst the occupant is still travelling at the pre-impact speed within the slack of the seat belt webbing. He or she moves forward relative to the car which is being stopped by the impact, travelling into the space created by the slack seat belt webbing. In this scenario, by the time the seat belt is tightened around the occupant, the vehicle has already changed velocity and deformed, which means there is less time and distance to be restrained within and the seatbelt-induced forces on the body are higher.

ii. There are also pre-pretensioners which electronically begin to tighten seat belts if vehicle sensors start to predict a collision may happen. If a collision does not happen, the electric motor loosens the webbing to its original position.

iii. Seat belt load limiter - these devices prevent the seat belt loads becoming too great; when a threshold force is reached the seat belt webbing is released in a controlled way from the reel providing additional distance for the occupant to travel and change velocity within. Seat belt load limiters work with frontal airbags and together they manage the occupant’s energy during the impact.

iv. Frontal airbag This deploys in front of an occupant, and along with the seat belt forms a restraint system (that works together), which manufacturers design to pass the frontal crash test requirements, specifically to mitigate head and chest injury, providing particular protection to the driver from the steering column and wheel.

v. Side curtain airbag This deploys from the roof at the side of a vehicle, and can protect an occupant’s head and chest, particularly in side impact collisions and rollovers, in three ways. It can protect them from:
a. hitting whatever has impacted the vehicle;
b. hitting the side of the vehicle they are in (particularly a ‘B’ pillar (the structural part of a car between a front door and the rear seat area);
c. being ejected from the vehicle (if a vehicle rolls to one side).

vi. Crumple zones. Crumple zones are part of the exterior of the vehicle designed to deform in order to absorb the force of an impact, with the objective of leaving occupants protected in a hard shell.

Other voluntary-fitted occupant passive safety measures 

There are some additional voluntary passive safety measures that are less well known but fitted in some vehicle models. For example:

i. Steering columns that move in a crash (providing the driver with a bigger space in which to decelerate their movement forwards) 

ii. Head restraints that move in a crash to provide extra protection against whiplash 

iii. Air bags in other positions. This includes knee airbags (which help prevent femur and pelvic fractures); airbags in the base of seats (that keep the occupant tightly within their seat belt); and seat belt air bags (that distribute forces over a wider area on your body and lowers the risk of more localised force causing fractures to bones or injury to internal organs).

iv. Forgiving (softer) internal fittings (for example, dashboard made of softer plastics with underlying structures that are designed to distribute loading and avoid concentrated points which could produce high forces on impact).

Voluntarily-fitted 'adaptive restraint systems' 

Adaptive restraint systems (ARS) are additional passive safety measures (also fitted voluntarily by manufacturers) designed to adapt to the circumstances of a crash (for example the speed) and the nature of vehicle occupants (for example weight and height) and adjust accordingly the restraint loads applied. This includes providing less forceful restraint in lower-speed crashes.

These systems provide greater protection, particularly to people with more vulnerable bodies, notably older people who generally are more likely to suffer injury under given loading conditions because biomechanical tolerance to trauma reduces with age as bones weaken.

The protection of older vehicle occupants is a particular cause for concern because: they are growing in number (due to demographic changes); they are involved disproportionately in some crashes; and they sustain injuries more easily and severely than younger people. [11]

Examples are:

i. Dual-stage frontal air bags. These deploy at a tailored speed and to a tailored size, depending on the size and position of the person in the seat.

ii. Variable load limiters. These release webbing according to the collision and vehicle users’ characteristics.

Real world crashes and limitations of the current tests 

There is a phenomenon of large SUVs being purchased for use in towns and on trunk roads. It is possible that some people buy SUVs because they perceive that larger and heavier cars provide more occupant protection than smaller and lighter cars. However, the occupant protection performance of any sized vehicle in a crash is highly dependent on many variables, not just size and weight. In the real world, vehicles collide with all kinds of vehicles and static objects (road furniture, trees, telephone poles, etc.) of varying size and weight, but also at varying heights, speeds and angles. This causes vehicles and occupants to be impacted in a multitude of ways.[12]

Many crashes in the real world involve circumstances not covered by the parameters of the current mandatory crash tests.

The frontal impact test only involves a collision with part of a car’s front. This is called an “offset” test and is designed to test the structural integrity of the car. Some real world collisions involve damage to the full width of the front. These full width collisions typically generate higher deceleration forces and test the seat belts and restraint systems much more than the offset test.

The side impact test simulates a car to car impact, but the bullet or striking car is replicated by a trolley, which has uniform stiffness and only weighs 950kg. The trolley is not representative of a modern car. A modern car on average weighs more than 1,200kg and has a complicated front structure that results in concentrated forces in varying places in the event of a collision. The side impact test conditions are also very different than those experienced in impacts with poles or trees, or with collisions with larger vehicles such as heavy goods vehicles.

There is no rear impact test. 

There is no testing involving dummies in rear seats. 

Euro NCAP testing 

Euro NCAP, a consumer-focussed organisation, has created a five-star safety rating scheme to help consumers compare the safety of cars and light-vehicles.

Euro NCAP carries out more demanding impact tests than the mandatory tests. For example, it carries out a full-width frontal impact test using dummies in the front and rear of the car. It also rewards manufacturers for fitting safety features as standard, including active safety measures such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

The Euro NCAP overall safety rating, which was introduced in 2009, is based on an assessment in four areas:
• adult occupant protection (for the driver and front seat passenger)
• child occupant protection
• pedestrian protection
• the fitting of technologies that assist safety (known as the ‘Safety Assist’ (SA) score). The SA score is determined from performance tests of today’s driver assist technologies that support safe driving to avoid crashes and mitigate injuries.
The overall safety rating used by Euro NCAP means it is possible for a car to offer reasonable protection in one of these areas, or a combination of these areas, and still be less than 4-star rated because they score poorly in other areas. Therefore, given the current scoring system, cars with a minimum of four stars and ideally five stars are recommended. Even then, a five star rating by Euro NCAP isn’t necessarily representative of a vehicle providing all-round good levels of protection in all types of ‘real world’ collisions, particularly if the stars were awarded before 2009. (The earlier star ratings only evaluated the front seat adult occupant protection and separately captured the risks posed to pedestrians or rear seat passengers.)

Euro NCAP tests provide the consumer with a useful comparison of safety performance between different cars within the same class of vehicle and that were tested at a similar time. Euro NCAP has also tested some vans and pick-up trucks, but the majority of the testing is cars.

It’s reasonable to perceive that Euro NCAP has played, and continues to play, an important role in encouraging vehicle manufacturers to elevate their vehicle safety standards voluntarily and well above the requirements of the regulated mandatory impact tests. More than 85% of cars sold in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are now rated highly by Euro NCAP (4 or 5 stars), proving manufacturers can easily reach standards much higher than those required in the mandatory tests.

The challenge is to ensure all cars sold in the UK have a minimum 4 star rating. There are still some two star cars in the UK.

The EC review of passive safety systems for vehicle occupants: and Brake’s position

The EC is reviewing the GSR and has committed to considering a number of different possibilities for extending the regulations to include more passive safety systems for occupant safety, with decisions expected by 2018.

The possibilities the EC is considering are listed in a report it published at the end of 2016 [12] preceded by a review in 2015 of the benefits and feasibility of implementation of a wider number of measures [13].

Brake’s position is to support the following measures to be legislated in 2018:

1 Seat belt reminders
The EC is considering seat belt reminders to be fitted to all passenger seats (currently only driver seats).

2 Improve frontal and side impact tests
The EC is considering the “introduction of new requirements or enhancing of existing measures in the field of …. frontal crash testing, side crash testing, rear crash testing.” [14]

Brake’s position is to support mandatory occupant testing that brings tests up to the same standard as those required to win ‘good’ (4 or 5 star) ratings in each aspect of the Euro NCAP voluntary tests.

Brake supports the following proposals for improvements to the mandatory minimum impact tests:

i) Improvements to frontal impact test, including
• Remove the exemptions for heavier cars (>2,500kg) and include Reg 94 testing for vans
• Introduce a small overlap test
• Introduce a full width test

ii) Improvements to side impact test, including
• Remove the exemptions for taller cars and include Reg 95 testing for vans
• Introduce a pole impact test
• Introduce a far side impact test

iii) Introduce rear impact testing
There is currently no rear impact test, and this needs introducing. This would verify safety standards of the fuel system (petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid) and structural integrity.

iv) Introduce testing standards that include testing with rear dummies. 

Brake supports the retention of lower impact test requirements for lightweight, smaller vehicles with lower emissions, particularly ultra-low emission vehicles or vehicles with low travelling speeds.


End notes

[1] UN Regulation 94 and 95
[2] General Safety Regulations (EC 661/2009)
[3] UN Regulations 14 and 16
[4] General Safety Regulations (EC 661/2009)
[5] EC, Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU, 2016
[6] ibid
[7] Euro NCAP
[8] Euro NCAP
[9] General Safety Regulations (EC 661/2009)
[10] General Safety Regulations (EC 661/2009)
[11] Richard Cuerden, Mervyn Edwards, Matthias Seidl, for European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development, The impact of higher or lower weight and volume of cars on road safety, particularly for vulnerable users: analytical study, 2016
[12] EC, Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU, 2016
[13] EC, Hynd, D. et al, Benefits and feasibility of a range of technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users: final report
[14] EC, Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU, 2016

Page uploaded: March 2017 

Passive safety measures on cars for vulnerable road users

Passive safety measures on cars aim to mitigate the consequences of a crash (reduce outcomes of death or serious injuries). These measures aim to either help occupants or people outside the car. This fact sheet explores passive safety measures that aim to protect people outside the car on foot, bicycles, other non-motorised transport, and motorcyclists. Collectively, these road users are often described by road safety professionals as vulnerable road users (VRUs).

VRUs: risk and casualties

Due to size, weight and rigidity, a collision between a vehicle and a human body can have catastrophic consequences at any speed. Statistics show VRUs are disproportionately casualties in road crashes compared with people inside vehicles.

Just over half the deaths on roads in Britain are VRUs. Of the 1732 road deaths in Britain in 2015, there were 409 deaths on foot; 100 cyclist deaths and 365 motorcyclist deaths [1]. More people die on foot than cycling for reasons including large numbers of pedestrians in towns (inclusive of children and adults with impairments) and low levels of cycling.

The Department for Transport calculates that, per billion miles travelled across the British road network, for every car occupant who dies, more than 8 pedestrians die. The rates are higher for cyclists and motorcyclists. For every car occupant who dies, more than 21 cyclists die and more than 24 motorcyclists die [2]. A factor contributing to higher death rates of people on bicycles or motorcycles compared with on foot is use of higher speed roads.

What happens in a collision between a vehicle and a VRU? What we do, and don’t, know

Most pedestrian injuries are lower limbs [3]. Less than one in seven pedestrian injuries occur from contact with the windscreen (usually the head hitting the windscreen) [4] [5].

However, it is known that most (eight out of ten) deaths and serious injuries of pedestrians are caused by head injuries, and most of these (eight out of ten) are in collisions with the windscreen [6] [7].

In a collision between the front of a normal saloon-style car and a pedestrian, the car can hit the pedestrian’s leg, causing the pedestrian’s body to rotate towards the car at the ‘bonnet leading edge’ (the angle between the vertical bumper and the horizontal bonnet top, known as the BLE), slide up the bonnet and hit their head and upper body on either the bonnet, the windscreen or an A pillar (the solid frame of the car at either side of the windscreen).

Increasingly, modern saloon-style cars have longer, angled windscreens and shorter bonnets than in the past, increasing likelihood of head impact with either the windscreen or the A pillar. However, not all cars are this shape. Notably there has been a significant divergence in the height of BLEs among different car models. SUVs have typically much higher BLEs. SUVs in Europe have increased from less than one in 10 cars ten years ago to around one in five today [8].

It is not known how diversity in shape of cars or any other aspect of their design and road use (for example speed) has specifically affected real world injuries of VRUs, due to lack of close investigation and collation of large data sets regarding what happens in these crashes. Information collated by enforcement agencies is inadequate to inform vehicle engineers about what happens in real world VRU collisions.

For example, it is only hypothesised that, in collisions with children and small adults, a high BLE may hit heads and upper bodies and not result in the person rotating and sliding up onto the bonnet.

Academics have called for a pan-European collision investigation programme (similar to a programme in the US [9]), to “inform the development of applicable and cost effective policies, technologies and solutions to prevent future loss of life and injury on our roads.” [10]

EC regulation of passive safety measures on vehicles to mitigate VRU injuries

The EC introduced, in 2009, regulation aimed at mitigating crash outcomes for VRUs. Commonly known as the Pedestrian Protection Regulation (78/2009) (PPR) [11], the regulation currently requires car manufacturers to do the following with regard to passive safety:

1. fit new models with bonnets and bumpers that can be described as “energy absorbing”

2. pass mandatory impact (crash) tests to the front of the car in laboratory conditions colliding the car and an ‘impactor’. The impactors are dummy body parts. The test results must meet ‘injury-based performance limits’ to pass (in other words, when the impactors and the vehicle collide, the damage incurred to the impactors mustn’t be over given thresholds). The mandatory crash tests are currently:
a. a lower leg form hitting a bumper
b. an adult’s head form hitting the bonnet in the “adult zone” (place it is likely to hit)
c. a child’s head form hitting the bonnet in the “child zone”
For the head form impact tests, two impactors are used at 35kph. The child and adult head forms have a mass of 3.5kg and 4.5kg respectively to represent a child’s head (or small adult’s head) and adult head.

The different head forms are used to impact in different “zones” (places on the bonnet where the heads are thought more likely to land.) The adult head form test is not carried out on short bonnet tops (where the measurement from the ground at the front of the vehicle to the windscreen edge is 1.7metres or less) because it is estimated the adult head form would, on these cars, hit the windscreen not the bonnet.

3. undertake ‘monitoring-only’ impact tests, conducted similarly, but with no requirements for the car model to pass the test (in essence these tests are to give the EC information to inform the feasibility of future mandatory test requirements). Monitoring-only crash tests are currently:
a. an adult's upper leg form hitting the BLE*; and
b. an adult's head form hitting a windscreen.
*An adult upper leg form is used in the BLE test because the BLE test was designed originally in the 1980s, when SUVs were not common and many cars had similar, lower bonnet leading edge heights, often about at the height of an adult upper leg.

 vru collision test zones

Figure 1: The four test procedures used in EU legislation to assess a car’s pedestrian protection.
Credit: Cuerden et al 2016

High failure rates in the ‘monitoring-only’ tests and review of the EC regulation

The PPR is currently under review alongside a review of another set of vehicle safety regulations (the General Safety Regulation (GSR)). Changes to the PPR and GSR are anticipated in 2018.
Two reports relating to these reviews have been published by the EC, one in 2015 and one in 2016.
The 2015 report [12] outlines the benefits and feasibility of various possible safety measures, including passive safety measures to mitigate VRU injuries. It also reports on the poor results of the monitoring-only pedestrian impactor crash tests.

Out of 323 vehicles subjected to the monitoring-only tests for a head form hitting a windscreen, and an adult’s upper leg form hitting the BLE, only one vehicle (a super mini) passed both tests [13].

Regarding the bonnet leading edge test, only two vehicles met the test threshold for injury levels sustained to the upper leg form, and these were both cars with low bonnets (small sports car design) [14].

Regarding the windscreen test, more than half (54%) vehicles tested failed [15].

The 2016 report [16] explains what the EC is considering taking forwards to improve safety. In relation to passive safety measures for VRUs, it says it
“foresees the introduction of ….. head impact protection on A-pillars and front windscreen” [17]

The 2016 report does not mention the BLE test.

Opportunities for change within the PPR

As well as keeping the mandatory lower leg form to bumper and head forms to bonnet tests, the EC has options, in its PPR review, to:
• mandate more crash tests (including the ones it requires for monitoring-only) and
• introduce additional monitoring tests.

Opportunity for a mandatory windscreen test

The EC has the option to elevate the “monitoring only” test of an adult head and a child head against a windscreen to a mandatory test. While more than half models submitted to the monitoring-only windscreen test failed it, nearly half passed it, demonstrating that it is possible for manufactures to meet the test’s requirements.

The 2015 report says manufacturers can address factors relating to the central windscreen area’s “stiffness” upon impact with a head. These factors include windscreen angle, shape, thickness and the glue bonding the windscreen to the car and distance to dashboard. The dashboard itself can also be addressed to be more forgiving [18].

There are also possibilities to make the test tougher by elevating its speed from 35 km/hour. It has been estimated than just over half pedestrians suffer head injuries at impact speeds below 40 km/h but frequency increases to 85.3% at speeds above 40 km/h [19].

Opportunity for a monitoring-only or mandatory A pillar test

The EC has the option to introduce a monitoring-only, or mandatory, crash test of head forms hitting A pillars.
Making A pillars more forgiving is challenging, but an obvious mitigation measure is external air bags. Some manufacturers already fit external air bags to some A pillars (for example, Volvo). The 2015 EC report says: “It will not be easy to meet a stringent …. requirement without adopting a deployable protection system [air bags]. Such systems are available.” [20]

Opportunity for improved and mandatory Bonnet Leading Edge tests of upper legs and development of a BLE to head form test

The EC has the option to make the current monitoring-only BLE crash test (which collides the BLE with an upper leg form) mandatory.

Despite some BLEs now being higher due to SUVs, the current BLE crash test is still appropriate for some older-style cars with low BLEs. Also, the test has been designed to a degree to account for differences in BLE height by testing at different speeds (vehicles with higher BLEs are tested at faster speeds to attain the same rotation speed of the upper leg form when it hits the BLE).

Given that most pedestrian injuries are still lower limbs [21], there is a strong argument for continuing with an improved version of the BLE test and mandating it. The test could be updated in line with the BLE test [22] undertaken by Euro NCAP (the consumer focussed organisation that operates a five-star rating of cars’ safety largely through crash testing.)

However, factors that weigh against the probability of the EC mandating the BLE test include: the test’s limitations (not reflective of full divergence in BLE heights); the comprehensive failure of vehicle models to meet the standards of the monitoring test; and the fact the BLE is not mentioned in the 2016 report.

The EC also has the option to work to devise a new test that tests a high BLE against a child head form and thorax (central body area) form. No such test is available at present.

It is possible to construct BLEs in ways that are more forgiving to heads. This can be achieved through use of materials that deform easily under pressure, displacing the head into the structure of the vehicle, rather than hard materials that cause the head to stop suddenly. The BLE can also be fitted with external air bags.

The EC’s 2015 report says there is a “potential benefit for head, thorax and abdomen protection for children not yet quantified and should be further reviewed in depth, if considered.” [23]

Brake’s position

1 Real world crash investigation
• Fund and deliver a pan-European collision investigation programme that prioritises, among other things, investigating VRU collisions with cars.
2 Mandate monitoring tests
The EC should retain its existing mandated tests (lower leg form to bumper, and head forms to bonnet) and:
• Mandate in the PPR the adult headform to windscreen protection monitoring test, with an impact speed of at least 40km/h
• Mandate the test of an upper leg form against a bonnet leading edge, in line with the latest EuroNCAP testing procedure.
3 Introduce more monitoring tests
• Introduce adult headform to A pillar monitoring tests at 40km/h
• Devise a test between vehicles with higher BLEs and a child’s head form and small adult thorax.
4 Publicise test results
• Ask type-approval authorities to collate and communicate every 3 years regarding all test results.


End Notes

[1] Reported Casualties Great Britain, June 2016
[2] Chart 2: Casualty and fatality rates per billion passenger miles by road user type: GB, 2014, Reported Casualties Great Britain, June 2016
[3] Dietmar, O., Birgitt, W. (2012) Comparison of Injury Situation of Pedestrians and Bicyclists in Car Frontal Impacts and Assessment of Influence Parameter on Throw Distance and Injury Severity.
[4] R Cookson, R Cuerden, D Richards, J Manning, TRL, A review of the causes of fatal pedestrians’ injuries resulting from collisions with car fronts – comparing vehicles registered in 2002 or later with earlier models, IRCOBI Conference 2009
[5] TRL, Study 26
[6] R Cookson, R Cuerden, D Richards, J Manning, TRL, A review of the causes of fatal pedestrians’ injuries resulting from collisions with car fronts – comparing vehicles registered in 2002 or later with earlier models, IRCOBI Conference 2009
[7] TRL, Study 26
[8] ACEA, 2015
[9] NASS-CDS
[10] Richard Cuerden, Mervyn Edwards, Matthias Seidl, TRL for European Parliament, Research for tran committee - the impact of higher or lower weight and volume of cars on road safety, particularly for vulnerable users, 2015
[11] Pedestrian Protection Regulation (78/2009)
[12] EC, Hynd, D. et al, Benefits and feasibility of a range of technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users: final report, 2015
[13] ibid
[14] ibid
[15] ibid
[16] EC, Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU, 2016
[17] EC, Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU, 2016
[18] EC, Hynd, D. et al, Benefits and feasibility of a range of technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users: final report, 2015
[19] Dietmar, O., Birgitt, W. (2012) Comparison of Injury Situation of Pedestrians and Bicyclists in Car Frontal Impacts and Assessment of Influence Parameter on Throw Distance and Injury Severity
[20] EC, Hynd, D. et al, Benefits and feasibility of a range of technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users: final report, 2015
[21] Dietmar, O., Birgitt, W. (2012) Comparison of Injury Situation of Pedestrians and Bicyclists in Car Frontal Impacts and Assessment of Influence Parameter on Throw Distance and Injury Severity
[22] Euro NCAP Pedestrian Testing Protocol December 2016
[23] EC, Hynd, D. et al, Benefits and feasibility of a range of technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users: final report

Page uploaded: March 2017

Position paper: automated, connected and assisted driving

This position paper summarises what is happening in the world of automated, connected and assisted driving, and states Brake's views on the possibilities presented to help society reach our vision of a world of transport that is safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. You can also read our autonomous and connected vehicles fact page for a brief history of automation and more facts, and our Advanced Driver Assistance Systems fact page. 

Definitions of automated and connected vehicles and assisted driving

A fully-automated vehicle, as defined by the engineer organisation SAE International [i], is one that can be driven entirely without a driver "in all road and environmental conditions." Automation eliminates driver error, which is a factor in nearly all road collisions[ii]; however, roads are a complex environment, with many types of roads, road junctions, and road users. Excepting motorways, roads share space with people on foot and bicycles or other forms of non-motorised wheels (e.g. wheelchairs), as well as domestic animals. Weather is also variable. It is these variances that mean fully-automated vehicles meeting the SAE International definition remain a holy grail ambition, not a reality. 

To reach for that holy grail, automated vehicle development, driven by manufacturers and increasingly by government strategy and government-funded projects, is utilising communication and sensor technology. Communication technology can pass information wirelessly between vehicles (V2V), and between vehicles and the road (infrastructure) (V2I)), creating a "connected" world where a vehicle "knows" about other vehicles and road conditions. Among other things, this technology enables vehicles to platoon (be wirelessly connected and travel in a convoy controlled by the lead vehicle). Additionally, the term V2X is a collective term that means "vehicle to everything" and includes connection to any kind of device with which it can communicate.

Sensor technology (for example cameras, radar and lasers) combined with on-board computers that interpret sensor data, can enable a vehicle to detect many vehicles in many situations, and some people in some situations.

Commentators predict that fully-automated vehicles will be a reality by 2030 or sooner. In the meantime, technology is already being implemented in vehicles on our roads through an increasingly array of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Vehicles using ADAS are referred to as providing "assisted" driving rather than automated driving; assisted driving requires a driver. 

Descriptions of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems 

Controlling speed and emergency braking 
Automated features that control speed and brake automatically in an emergency are widely endorsed as life-saving and available now. Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (already regulated in the UK on trucks and coaches) brake when a hazard is sensed ahead. Intelligent Speed Assistance/Adaptation controls a vehicle to within a posted speed limit (using GPS or transponders on speed limit signs). ISA is not mandated as yet, but is being fitted to all new London buses from 2017. 

Lane positioning and lane changing 
Lane Keeping Systems maintain a vehicle's position to within a lane automatically, and rely on lanes being marked clearly and possible for a vehicle to sense. Lane change assistance systems (or blind spot detection) give a warning if a driver is trying to change lane and something is coming, and relies on the driver to take evasive action. A lane warning system, that warns a driver if they are veering out of lane, is regulated in the UK on trucks and coaches. 

Detecting people outside a vehicle
Some high-end vehicles are fitted with sensors that aim to detect people, including on the road and when reversing. Systems designed for use on the road include systems that automatically brake. Reversing systems generally send a warning to the driver. Systems that aim to provide enhanced night vision of people also only provide warnings. Vehicle manufacturers warn that their systems cannot spot all people in all situations and do not replace driver vigilance. 

Cruising and manoeuvring 
Some cars already on the market use sensor technology to power highly-automated functions, such as "adaptive" cruise control (that aims to maintain a set distance for a vehicle in front) or even self-manoeuvring functions (enabling automatic lane changing, parking and vehicle summoning). These still require driver attention. A driver died in the USA in May 2016 when their Tesla collided with a truck; Tesla said neither the driver nor the car's "autopilot" system "noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."[iii]

Platooning trucks
While not yet allowable, platooning vehicles (wirelessly connected, travelling in a convoy controlled by the lead vehicle) have been showcased in Europe using trucks, and are being tested with trucks in England in 2017. They are proclaimed to have safety and environmental benefits including reduced emissions. 

The link between automation and clean vehicles 

The movement to automate and connect vehicles is happening concurrent to the movement to make vehicles clean. Transport currently accounts for about a quarter of the UK’s CO2 emissions[iv] and is a key contributor to NOx and particulate pollution causing deaths from respiratory disease and placing an enormous burden on the NHS. The UK government's strategy for ultra-low emission vehicles contains a vision that all new cars will be ULEVs by 2040[v] and registrations of ULEVs rose above 1% of all registrations for the first time in 2016. Small automated 'pods' trialled for city use in England are electric. Tesla cars are electric. 

UK government backing for automated and connected vehicles

The UK government is backing the development of automation on our roads, enabling testing and trialling of automated vehicles without regulatory constraints. In 2015 the UK government launched its action plan for a "Pathway to driverless cars"[vi] and in 2017 is trialling vehicles on public roads, including platooning trucks. Highways England's innovation strategy[vii] commits to development of a "connected corridor" expected to run from London to Dover. Roads on its network of motorways and A roads will see trials of automated and connected vehicles in 2017, including platooning trucks.

In 2016, the UK government issued a consultation[viii] around implementation issues relating to automated and assisted driving, including insurance, product liability, cyber security, sharing of crash data and vehicle use regulations (for example the Highway Code). This consultation is driven by the need to test automated vehicles on public roads and the rapid emergence of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, but is also future-focussed. 

Brake's views on ADAS

ADAS, under a confusing array of names given them by vehicle manufacturers, are being introduced by vehicle manufacturers all the time, typically on high-end vehicles. Brake's view is that some are very helpful for safety and should be mandated, some have limitations, and some are potentially dangerous, driving us too fast towards full automation with limited constraints. ADAS that are unproven should not be allowed unless rigorously and independently tested. Read on for our views on individual ADAS. 

1. Brake supports legislation mandating AEBS on all new vehicles.AEBS is a proven technology already required by law on larger commercial vehicles. This law should be extended to all vehicles. 

2. Brake supports legislation mandating ISA on all new vehicles. Brake has long supported mandatory ISA (vehicles are compelled to stay within speed limits) as a life-saving enforcement measure to enable people to comply with the law. However, we would also support intermediate legislation of advisory ISA (vehicles simply warn the driver if they are braking a speed limit) if this was the only legislation palatable by government today. 

3. Brake supports legislation mandating automated Lane Keeping Systems on all vehicles, and systems that warn of hazards when changing lanes, subject to continued evidence of their efficacy. 

4. Brake supports systems that aim to detect people outside vehicles but recognises their current limitations. Brake urges drivers using such systems to maintain full concentration at all times. In particular, drivers should use, but not rely, on reversing aids, but wherever possible avoid reversing rather than think that an in-vehicle aid will enable safe reversing. Brake has concerns that night vision systems have dubious safety benefits. 

5. Brake is concerned about the safety risks of automated cruise and manoeuvring on vehicles, particularly the potential for it to cause a reduction in driver attentiveness and a deterioration of driver skills. Brake is also concerned that such features, which carry inherent risks if they fail to work and the driver fails to step in, must be rigorously and independently tested and require approval. 

Brake's views on fully-automated and connected vehicles 

1. It's important to understand that we don't know if full automation as defined by SAE will ever be possible. It's not possible to know if  fully-automated vehicles will ever be able to detect and avoid entirely collisions with all vehicles, people and animals in a busy, complex, shared and variable environment, while also still being able to make reasonable progress. Full automation should not be allowed unless that is assured through rigorous testing.  

2. It's important to remember, regardless of the automation of vehicles, that vehicles and people don't mix. People need fair, and segregated space.At any speed, people engaged in active travel (on foot, bicycles, and other non-motorised forms of transport (from wheelchairs to scooters)) are more likely to die than vehicle occupants in a collision. Protecting people inside and outside vehicles is vitally important. But protecting people outside vehicles, and providing them with pleasant environments that encourage and enable active travel is particularly vital for our health and to mitigate climate change. It is important to understand that:  

  • People have been sidelined by traffic. Roads were originally made smooth for use by bicycles, not motorised traffic. But since motorisation, people have been forced, in fear, onto the margins of roads, often on narrow pavements or cycle lanes indicated by paint only; and when pavements and cycle lanes don't exist, on the the road itself.
  • Vehicles take up space and can be intimidating. Even the smallest automated pod would take up more space than a person and be perceived as a large, hard object compared with a toddler learning to walk. Even if vehicles can be developed to present no risk to people, allowing them to operate in a shared environment is highly likely to cause blockages, annoyance or intimidation for people engaged in active travel.
  • Segregation is part of a safe system. The "safe system" approach to road safety is embraced by the United Nations and the British government in efforts to drive casualties towards zero. This approach understands that it is better to engineer systems that can prevent, and mitigate the outcomes, of human error. Segregation is a key component. Even in a country like Britain with many ancient and narrow road spaces, forward-thinking planners are increasingly creating well-maintained and pleasant environments that segregate vehicles and people, with routes designed specifically for cyclists, wide pavements and traffic-free spaces for people, and limitations on vehicle access. 
  • Segregation is a more controlled environment for development of full automation. As well as enabling a more pleasant environment for people engaged in active travel, segregation presents a more controlled environment for development of full automation through the use of a combination of communication and sensor technology that can connect and sense vehicles and the road. 

Commentators imagine a world where fully-automated vehicles are in constant movement and available to be called (a bit like a taxi). If they are not in circulation they are parked elsewhere (for example in an underground bunker). In such a world, space currently used for parking could be liberated for active travel. 

3. Implementation plans for full automation must prioritise consideration of public health.Active travel is essential to prevent obesity, disease (such as diabetes and heart conditions) and early deaths. If fully-automated vehicles provide convenient point-to-point travel for all, and are affordable, then this could result in further declines in walking and cycling, including the short journeys that many of us undertake daily, such as walking or cycling in order to connect with buses and trains, or walking to the shops. People tend to do what is easiest for them, particularly when they are pressed for time. Liberation of time, so people can instead engage in activities such as work or socialising, including through use of phones and other devices, has been trumpeted as a major advantage of full automation. The government estimates this would save the average driver up to six working weeks[viii]

Conversely, the UK has a growing population of older people with impairments that prohibit them from driving or impair their safe driving. Fully-automated vehicles could improve their independence and safe road use and also improve independence for people with disabilities. However, such benefits must be considered in the balance alongside risks to public health. 

“I want them to be available like a taxi to pick me up from my home take me where I need to go 24/7- 365 for the same cost as a bus ride.” 
“I can easily travel to the supermarket with an empty bag, but to travel back to the Millennium Village with full bags is slightly more difficult!”
Quotes from member of the public consulted in the driverless vehicle GATEway project in London[vii]

4. Automation should be linked to ULEV ambitions by government. The government should explicitly link its action plan for automation and its strategy for a new vehicles to be ULEVs by 2040. A progressive, united strategy would require fully-automated vehicles, should they ever be allowable on British roads, to be ULEVs. If fully-automated vehicles are ULEV, they will help built-up areas be cleaner, quieter, more pleasant places to live, which is fairer and more enabling for people walking, cycling, living and working in our towns and cities.

5. Brake supports communication technology developments, and calls for international standardisation of systems across national borders. 

6. Platooning trucks require testing and do not negate the need for a growth in rail freight. Platooning creates the equivalent of one huge vehicle by linking lots of trucks wirelessly, travelling very close together. The safety of the whole platoon is dependent on the safety of the actions of the lead vehicle. Platooning must be rigorously tested and proven to be safe before being considered for approval. If allowed on roads, platooning trucks are unlikely to be a friendly feature in an urban environment and appropriate only on multi-lane highways. Diesel engines are highly polluting. Platooning aims to create a smoothly-flowing road train that reduces emissions, but begs the question why our rail network isn't extended so more of our freight can be carried by rail, which offers environmental advantages and frees up road space. 


End notes

[i] SAE International Standard J3016

[ii] Department for Transport, Supplementary written evidence from the Department for Transport: Transport committee ‘motoring for the future’ inquiry, 2015

[iv] Committee on Climate Change, Road transport

[v] Department for Transport, Driving the Future Today, a strategy for ULEVs in the UK, 2013 

[vi] Department for Transport, The pathway to driverless cars: summary report and action plan

[vii] Highways England, Innovation, Technology and Research strategy 2016

[viii] Department for Transport, Pathway to Driverless Cars: Proposals to support advanced driver assistance systems and automated vehicle technologies

[vii] 'Greenwich automated transport environment' GATEway project