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Improving road safety: crash protection for people outside the vehicle

Brake Road Safety Week aims to raise awareness of safety on UK roads and draw attention to the dangers faced by our motorists. The week-long campaign highlights some of the simple ways we can all contribute to improving road safety, while Minster Law is supporting the campaign by focusing on road safety innovations.

Vulnerable road users (VRUs) are described by road safety professionals as ‘anyone who is at greater risk of being involved in a road traffic accident (RTA) with a vehicle’, e.g. pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and non-motorised transport. While various crash prevention systems can be beneficial to the driver and passengers of a vehicle, there are also some systems that are designed specifically to increase the safety of other road users.

For example, reversing detection systems alert the driver to anything that is in close proximity to the vehicle, reducing the chance of a collision. Night vision cameras are designed for the same purpose – cameras positioned on the outside of the vehicle give drivers extended visibility in the dark.

Pedestrian and cyclist detection systems are becoming increasing popular on larger vehicles such as buses, lorries and vans. The technology uses sensors and cameras to detect when pedestrians and cyclists are in close proximity which are particularly useful on larger vehicles that have more blind spots. In 2016, it was announced that Volvo had developed a pedestrian and cyclist detection system especially for buses that was “designed to cut the number of road traffic fatalities”. The system consistently monitors the bus’s vicinity using cameras, an image processing system and algorithms. It transmits a sound to warn other road users when they get too close to a bus, the driver is alerted by sound and light signal and if there is an imminent risk of an incident and the bus’s horn automatically activated.

This said, vulnerable road users have just as much responsibility to play their part reducing the chances of an accident by responding to relevant road safety systems such as zebra crossings and traffic lights. It’s also really important that all road users look out for brake lights, look properly before crossing the road and signal before turning while on bikes and motorcycles. If we all play our part in being considerate to other road users, the overall safety of our roads is far more likely to increase.

Click here to read about how driver behavior systems can help to improve road safety.