MOTORING CORNER : “Reducing pedestrian Fatalities”

Worldwide statistics indicate that, pedestrian accidents make up about 11- 15 percent of motor vehicle related deaths. The light at the end of the tunnel is that pedestrian deaths are declining, in part because vehicle designs have changed to reduce injuries when a car and pedestrian do collide.

Worldwide statistics indicate that, pedestrian accidents make up about 11- 15 percent of motor vehicle related deaths. The light at the end of the tunnel is that pedestrian deaths are declining, in part because vehicle designs have changed to reduce injuries when a car and pedestrian do collide.

There are a number of enhancements that have been added into the vehicle architecture to safeguard the pedestrians. While significant advancement in motor vehicle technology has become a catch phrase, some manufactures have also turned their focus on people outside the vehicle, in part because regulations in the developed world have dictated so, in Europe, it is a requirement that, designs are made with the third part road users in mind.

With an increasing number of vehicles sold globally (as opposed to only in one country or region of the world), it makes good economic sense to build vehicles to meet as many different governmental standards as possible.

Bodies Flying, in order to design vehicles to cause less injury to a pedestrian in a collision, engineers and researchers spend time reviewing real-world crash data, using computer simulations of crashes and performing actual crash testing with full dummies and test devices, called impactors, that represent portions of dummies’ bodies (such as a leg or a head).

Statistics show that most pedestrians are struck by the front of a vehicle, but what happens in the crash varies widely depending on several factors, including the type of vehicle, its speed and the height of the pedestrian.

The result is a multitude of scenarios that makes studying these accidents challenging. For example, when a vehicle hits a pedestrian who is crossing the street, the vehicle’s bumper and the front edge of the bonnet generally strike the person.

A taller vehicle, such as an SUV, means impact higher on the body, while increased speed of the vehicle means the pedestrian will likely be propelled up over the bonnet, onto the windshield.

“When someone is crossing the street as they are hit, their body will move forward or backward depending on the way their legs are positioned, since they are usually in a walking stride, not standing still,” explains Longhitano. “If the driver hits the brakes, the person typically ends up on the ground in front of the vehicle, but if the driver doesn’t brake, the person continues to hit an exterior mirror and land on the driver or passenger side of the vehicle.”

Changing the Vehicle Design to respond to this wide range of scenarios, motor vehicle manufacturers began addressing pedestrian accidents decades ago by focusing on the obvious vehicle features that could cause harm e.g. protruding bonnets, and some ornaments have been  embedded in the grille or designed to collapse on impact, exterior mirrors are now mounted in such a manner that, they will close on slight impact.

Even a styling feature such as recessed door handles has helped reduce pedestrian injury. In recent years, vehicle design has focused on making slight changes to the front end of the vehicle that aren’t obvious to consumers.

One example is changing the way that the fenders, bonnet and windshield wipers are attached, so their performance strength is maintained but they can easily collapse when impacted by a pedestrian. Vehicles from Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo among others have these types of features.
 
motoringcorner@live.co.uk

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