In developed countries such as the USA or Europe, the risks of injury or fatality in traffic accidents have declined significantly in recent years. These reductions apply to both vehicle passengers and other involved persons. Much of this improvement has been attributable to progress in the field of passive safety, i.e., better protection of car occupants in situations where an accident is unavoidable. However, the marginal benefits resulting from additional efforts and expenditures in passive safety have begun to decrease; in other words, a classical “point of diminishing returns” has been reached. Increasing emphasis for achieving further significant improvements in vehicle safety will be placed on integral safety systems: Integral safety involves a concerted strategy of interlinking sensors and actuators of active and passive safety. The primary goal of this interlinking is optimization of performance and robustness of safety systems for occupants, but integral safety approaches can also achieve better protection of vulnerable road users than passive safety measures alone. In view of considerations such as reduction of CO2 and fuel consumption, there is another attractive benefit: integral safety can serve to reduce the steady weight increase of vehicles and thus provide an important contribution to the development of both sustainable and safe vehicles.
In order to develop effective measures for mitigating the severity of traffic accidents or even completely avoiding them, it is essential to understand the mechanisms of accident events, including the processes and risks involved in traffic situations in which these accidents occur. A quantitative understanding of these processes and risks aids in assessing the potential effectiveness of vehicle safety measures. The automobile industry is faced with enormous challenges in discovering and implementing the most effective solutions. Assessment by legal authorities and/or consumer groups should concentrate on safety performance, not on specification of particular technologies or methodologies, and should encourage implementation of devices providing greatest safety benefits by mandating robust and standardized testing and assessment techniques that quantify and measure effectiveness independently of technological details.
KeywordsSafety System Road User Active Safety Vehicle Safety Passive Safety
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