Improvements to the front of the vehicle

Around 600 pedestrians a year die on the roads in Germany, and over 8,000 suffer serious injuries. In a joint research project with RWTH Aachen University, the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) investigated technical means of mitigating the consequences of accidents for pedestrians hit by cars and established that there is still huge potential to improve the design of even the latest cars in this respect.

The accident researchers found that an optimized fender, an engine hood that automatically assumes an angle that protects pedestrians in an accident situation and a windshield airbag can significantly reduce the impact on the pedestrian in a frontal collision. In addition, electronic emergency braking assistance systems with pedestrian detection can reduce the speed before the collision to a level that significantly reduces the risk of injury. Moreover, these emergency braking assistance systems can also prevent some accidents involving pedestrians entirely.

Based on a newly developed, integrated approach to assessment, the UDV can now make much more precise statements about the pedestrian friendliness of any vehicle model available on the market.

The UDV therefore makes the following demands:

A speed limit of 30 km/h (or less) must be introduced at schools, kindergartens and known accident black spots, and speeds must be monitored to ensure these speed limits are enforced. Emergency braking assistance systems with pedestrian detection must be optimized quickly and made available in all vehicle categories.
The introduction of electronic systems must not come at the expense of progress already made with regard to passive pedestrian protection.
The windshield frame and A-pillars are critical areas and must be made safer.

The testing and assessment methods used thus far are inadequate and must be further developed. You have to consider the overall effect of different passive and active measures.The UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) conducted a research project in which it developed a new system for evaluating pedestrian protection. The aim was to make it possible to compare both passive measures (e.g. an active hood lift system) and active technical measures (e.g. an autonomous emergency braking system) in cars that are designed to improve pedestrian protection. This system was used to evaluate 19 cars in 2012. The risk of a serious head injury (AIS 3+) for children and adults was examined at collisions of between 20 and 40 km/h, and the effect of an active hood lift system was compared with that of a pedestrian airbag.

The results showed that it is not enough to reduce the impact of the pedestrian on the car with passive measures alone; the impact speed also has to be reduced. This active measure has the greatest positive effect, regardless of the vehicle category and the physical size of the pedestrian. Nevertheless, passive protective measures are required in addition to emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection, since even a highly developed active system cannot always reliably prevent an accident.