Tag Archive: Road Safety

  1. Congressional watchdog launches probe into pedestrian and cyclist fatalities from cars

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    Source: Street Blog USA

    Congress has initiated an investigation into whether America’s limited vehicle safety standards contribute to the rising deaths of vulnerable road users and what measures are needed to stop automakers from selling vehicles that numerous studies show disproportionately kill pedestrians, cyclists, and others outside vehicles.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm, is leading this review at the request of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D–Md.). Raskin highlighted the alarming increase in pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the U.S., noting that the country is an “appalling exception” among developed nations with significantly fewer fatalities.

    Experts argue that the growing size of American vehicles, particularly trucks and SUVs, contributes to this problem. Between 1993 and 2023, the average vehicle in the U.S. has gained 1,000 pounds, grown four inches wider, ten inches longer, and eight inches taller. This size increase, driven by the popularity of larger vehicles, raises the hoods of many models, such as the Ford F-series pick-ups, to chest level for many adults. This design change increases the likelihood of fatal injuries to vital organs rather than less severe leg injuries. Additionally, the larger blind zones of these vehicles prevent drivers from seeing pedestrians, including children, directly in front of them, and make it more likely for pedestrians to be pulled under the vehicle rather than pushed onto the hood, increasing the risk of death.

    One study indicates that 18% of pedestrian deaths could be prevented by capping the hood height of trucks and SUVs to that of a modest crossover. “All the research shows that the design of cars and trucks—including their height, the geometry of the vehicle, and their weight—affects the safety of vulnerable road users,” Raskin told Streetsblog. He emphasized that as vehicles have become larger, blind zones have also increased, leading to more pedestrian fatalities. Raskin called for the best research to address these design issues.

    Raskin’s advocacy is partly inspired by personal tragedy, having lost his cousin in a Florida crash and his constituent, Sarah Debbink Langenkamp, a diplomat killed while cycling in Bethesda in 2022. In response, Raskin and other lawmakers pushed for legislation in her name, including a bill to help states secure federal funds for protected bike lane networks and a Maryland bill to increase penalties for drivers who hit cyclists in bike lanes or shoulders.

    Despite advocacy efforts, vehicle safety regulations remain inadequate. The truck that struck Langenkamp had large blind spots and lacked pedestrian and cyclist-specific “side-underride” guards that could have prevented her from being swept under the wheels. A ProPublica and PBS Frontline documentary revealed that regulators were close to mandating such equipment but retreated after industry lobbying.

    For passenger vehicles, the situation is similarly troubling. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law mandated that regulators provide information on safety technologies for pedestrians and cyclists, but they focused only on advanced pedestrian automatic emergency braking technology. Studies show these technologies often fail at high speeds and in dark conditions where most pedestrian deaths occur.

    The GAO investigation aims to examine various vehicle design features that could reduce traffic fatalities, such as height, geometry, driver visibility, and direct vision. Raskin has also requested an evaluation of successful safety measures in other countries and the potential challenges of implementing them in the U.S.

    While the GAO cannot enforce changes, Raskin hopes that compiling and presenting extensive research on vehicle safety risks will spark meaningful discussions and lead to substantial improvements. “We need to promote the idea that no one should die on our roads,” he asserted. “That should not be an acceptable cost of doing business.

  2. Speed pedelec trial on high speed cycle route in Germany 

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    The Hessian Ministry (for transport, energy, economic affairs, transport, housing and rural areas) and Darmstadt Regional council will begin a traffic trial on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt rapid cycle link from mid-May, initially for one year.

    Source: Wirtschaft.hessen

    The trial period will permit speed pedelecs to use the section between Langen and Darmstadt-Nord. Also known as S-pedelecs, speed pedelecs have a similar appearance to conventional pedelecs but have a higher speed limit of 45km/h, so are categorised as “mopeds” that aren’t normally allowed to ride on cycle paths.

    Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences will help with analysing the traffic trial, which has the objective of investigating if high-speed cycling routes could be suitable for S-pedelec use. The university will record road safety levels on the cycle link with speed observations, on-site surveys and interviews.

    The traffic test aims to investigate the speeds of various user groups, and analyse the effects of speed pedelecs being used on the high-speed cycling route. Cycling path users are advised to look out for signs to confirm the areas where speed pedelecs are permitted to be used.

    The first set of results from the traffic trial is expected for spring 2025.

    Transport Minister Mansoori explains the reasoning behind the trial: “Carrying out traffic trials is crucial to test all possible ways to accelerate the transport transition. I am pleased that we are now going into implementation here together with the Darmstadt Regional Council and I am curious to see what results we can draw from this.”


    Some argue that S-pedelecs are only able to reach a top speed of 45 km/h for a short time under maximum effort, so associate them as having a similar average speed to racing bikes. At the same time, the speed pedelec is seen as a great replacement for the car, especially for longer everyday journeys.

    However under the context of road safety, the suitability of speed pedelecs on cycle paths has been questioned due to the large speed difference between S-pedelec users and slow cyclists. Due to their capability to reach high travel speeds of up to 45km/h with assistance, federal legislators usually categorise them as being similar to motorcycles, making it illegal for them to be generally used in cycling paths.

    The Hessian ministry and Darmstadt regional council have reserved the right to end the traffic trial earlier within the year, in case of any road safety issues.

  3. MD of Deutschen Städtetages speaks on e-scooter liability

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    Source: Deutscher Stadtetag

    Helmut Dedy, Managing Director of the German Association of Cities, told the German Press Agency, “If e-scooters are misused or improperly parked, leading to accidents or damages, it must be clear who is liable. The best solution would be for the owner to be liable, as with cars. In this case, it would be the providers. If that is not the case, then those who use the scooters must be liable.

    Dedy further stated, “This requires proof of identity. Other cities will definitely closely observe the developments in Gelsenkirchen. What all cities want are clear rules for e-scooters and more decision-making power for municipalities.

    Improperly parked scooters often become a tripping hazard. Many users do not follow traffic rules while riding, going too fast or riding where it is not allowed. Both could be prevented if Federal Minister of Transport Wissing finally allows so-called geofencing for e-scooters.

    This could, for example, prevent an e-scooter user from ending a ride in a location where parking is prohibited. With geofencing, it would also be technically possible to automatically limit the speed of scooters in certain areas, such as parks or pedestrian zones. So far, however, the Federal Ministry of Transport does not seem willing to do so, even though it is responsible for digitization and could enable a genuine digital innovation in the transport sector here.

  4. The Netherlands saw 270 cycling deaths in 2023

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    Source: Fietsberaad

    In 2023, there were 270 fatalities among cyclists in traffic, which is 20 fewer than the previous year. Similar to last year, at least 40% of these individuals were riding e-bikes, as revealed by the annual report released by Statistics Netherlands on April 10. The total number of traffic-related deaths reached 684.

    For the fourth consecutive year, cyclist fatalities (270) outnumbered those of passenger car occupants (194). Between 2019 and 2023, a total of 1,199 cyclists lost their lives in traffic incidents. Among these, 42% were the result of collisions with passenger cars or vans, while 10 percent occurred after collisions with trucks or buses. Additionally, 32% were attributed to single-vehicle accidents. Notably, for cyclists aged 75 and above, 38% of fatalities were due to single-vehicle accidents.

    Despite an overall decrease of 61 road fatalities compared to 2022, the total figure remains higher than the period between 2010 and 2021.

  5. ITF publishes Safe Micromobility report

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    The report examines recent micromobility safety trends and risks and includes recommendations for authorities and operators

    Source: ITF

    In 2020, the ITF published Safe Micromobility, a report assessing the safety of micromobility and emerging mobility services. Over the past four years, significant changes have occurred in the evidence surrounding micromobility safety. The report presents an analysis of the current evidence on recent trends and risks in micromobility safety, offering safety recommendations for both authorities and micromobility operators in line with the Safe System approach.

    The analysis is grounded in a comprehensive technical report authored by the same individuals, which contains more extensive information and a complete list of references for all data and findings presented in this publication.

    Policy Insights:

    • Micromobility is becoming safer, but the rising incidence of severe injuries resulting from e-scooter accidents is a cause for concern. Overall, shared e-scooter crash risk is decreasing as their usage is increasing faster than injuries.
    • Safe infrastructure and vehicle design cannot be overstated. Rider behaviour and safety equipment must be complemented by better infrastructure and improved vehicle design, particularly for e-scooters.
    • Reinforcing existing policies improves safety. Road safety measures also make micromobility safer – managing speed, providing training to road users, and enforcing rules against impaired driving and riding.

    Download the full report here.

  6. European cities consider measures against SUVs following Paris referendum

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    Sources: CNBC, Vias

    Citing safety and environmental concerns, cities across Europe are following Paris’ lead with new laws aiming to discourage citizens from buying SUVs

    Paris SUV parking charge

    In a recent referendum, the majority of Parisians voted to increase parking fees for SUVs in an attempt to discourage more users from choosing this mode of transport. Due to their larger size, SUVs emit more emissions and pollute the environment more than other vehicles, as well as being a concern for road safety. Other cities have since taken action following the Paris vote, and a report also highlights the dangers these vehicles can pose to other road users.

    Recent report on SUVs causing increased injuries in road collisions

    Belgian knowledge institute Vias has also reported on the vehicle characteristics that affect injury severity after analysing all collisions between 2017 and 2021, involving 300,000 car occupants and vulnerable road users. The results show that vehicle mass plays an important role in the impact of a collision, with drivers of heavier vehicles more likely to be protected by the vehicle (injury risk in a collision decreases by 25% for SUV drivers), but individuals hit by them being more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries (injury risk increased by 20% for car occupants that collided with an SUV).

    These findings also have concerning implications for the safety of other road passengers such as cyclists and pedestrians. Vias reported that the risk of fatal injuries increases by 30% if either a cyclist or pedestrian gets hit by a car with a hood that is 10cm higher than average.

    Cities in Europe also implementing policies to curb SUV sales.

    With reports on sales of SUV vehicles on the increase, Paris is not alone in its bids to decrease the popularity of heavier SUV vehicles:

    • Paris’ SUV referendum originally followed the initiative of fellow French city Lyon, which had already announced a similar policy to enforce higher parking charges for heavier vehicles, which will be applied next June.
    • Another city in France, Grenoble, has already enforced a higher environmental tariff for heavier vehicles in car parks and is now also considering taxing SUVs as an additional initiative, as confirmed by the mayor’s spokesperson to CNBC.
    • French city Grenoble, meanwhile, has already implemented a higher environmental tariff in car parks for heavier vehicles, and a spokesperson from the mayor’s office in Bordeaux told CNBC that the city and the mayor are “at the reflection stage on the subject of taxing SUVs.”
    • Meanwhile in Germany, the city of Tübingen has introduced a six-fold increase in the annual cost of resident parking permits to 180 euros for vehicles with a combustion engine, that weigh over 1.8 metric tons.
    • The mayor of Hannover in Germany, told CNBC that after the Paris vote, residents of the city would “also have to face the question of how we deal with vehicles that take up more space.”

    Meanwhile, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan implied that he would be paying attention to the effectiveness of these policies. It will be interesting to see the ongoing effects of these SUV policies, and if other cities will also join on trying to mitigate SUV usage due to road safety and environmental concerns.

  7. Amsterdam investigates intelligent speed adjustment e-bike technology

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    Source: Fietsbaraad

    The municipality of Amsterdam is working with telecom company, Odido, and the Townmaking Institute to explore the prospect of temporarily and/or locally limiting electric bicycle speeds in the city, to improve road safety in certain areas.

    Intelligently reducing e-bike speed is a method that is being developed to improve safety in specific road scenarios, such as school zones, bad weather conditions, or road closures. In order for this technology to work effectively and ensure that required speeds are maintained, electric bikes would need to be connected to a communications network at all times.

    The speed change technology has already been piloted on a closed circuit and the next stage of the project would be to test it on a busy cycle route. It has been reported that implementing this type of intelligent speed control for e-bikes on a large scale is likely to take a long time, as agreements need to be reached with the European Commission and electric bike manufacturers. There is also a need to gather evidence across the city on when and where cycling speeds need to be limited, and whether a maximum speed for cycle lanes would also be possible.

  8. Amsterdam introduces 30 km/h speed limit with awareness campaign

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    Source: Eltis

    80% of Amsterdam’s streets set to switch from 50 km/h to 30 km/h zones from December 8th.

    To help ease the transition to the lower speed limit, the city rolled out an information campaign in the affected streets during the time leading up to the change. Temporary road sign stickers reading “December 8, 30 km/h here” have been in place, allowing drivers to become accustomed to the revised speed limit in good time.

    In addition to the speed limit change, local government is also implementing changes to traffic lanes. Special public transport lanes have been created, which are physically segregated from general traffic lanes, and where the speed limit will remain at 50 km/h.

    The introduction of the 30 km/h zones is intended to increase road safety and reduce traffic noise.

    The city has also published information about the changes and a map of the streets affected on its website here.

  9. TRL to deliver SHARP helmet safety scheme

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    Source: TRL

    TRL has been awarded a contract with the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) to oversee and execute the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP).

    The consumer awareness initiative was established in 2007 to support the reduction of severe and fatal head injuries typically sustained by motorcyclists involved in road collisions. Despite only constituting 1% of road traffic in Great Britain, motorcyclists account for an alarmingly high 20% of road fatalities. Of these fatalities, around 80% were attributed to head injuries. While all helmets are required to meet minimum safety standards by law, SHARP surpasses these standards, providing an independent evaluation of helmet impact performance. Helmets are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5-star helmets offering the highest level of protection. Additionally, SHARP provides guidance on choosing a properly fitting helmet. This information aids riders in making informed decisions within their budget at the point of purchase.

    SHARP, aiming to assess approximately 30 helmets annually, draws on research findings from international studies on road traffic incidents involving motorcyclists. These studies replicate real-world accidents in laboratory conditions, allowing for the identification of impact locations, frequencies, and severities on helmets. By subjecting helmets to more demanding impacts than required by regulations, SHARP identifies helmets that offer superior performance in real-world collisions.

    Dr. Phil Martin, Head of Transport Safety at TRL, emphasised the significance of TRL’s involvement in the SHARP program, stating, “Our appointment on the SHARP program feels like a return to our roots. From developing the original SHARP protocols, to advising the DfT on updates to the test protocols to reflect evolving helmet designs, TRL has been involved with SHARP for almost 20 years. Over time we have collected better data and provided better insights about the head injuries suffered by motorcyclists in road collisions. This data not only reveals the cause and location of injuries, but also the long term effects, derived from decades of collision research and our experience in providing expert testimony for personal injury claims.

    While helmet manufacturers prioritise safety and consumers consider it as a critical factor in decision-making, not all helmets are created equal. Dr. Phil Martin added, “SHARP solves the challenge for consumers in identifying these distinctions, as price alone does not serve as an indicator. Since its launch, helmet manufacturers and retailers have embraced the SHARP star rating system. We have confidence that they will demonstrate their continued enthusiasm for the scheme by participating in the process to update and expand it.”

    As a social purpose enterprise, TRL operates the most advanced helmet impact test facility in the United Kingdom, conducting hundreds of motorbike helmet safety tests annually. They also manage the Road Accident In-Depth Studies (RAIDS) program for DfT, collecting detailed information about road traffic collisions, causes, and outcomes. This data underpins modern road vehicle safety standards and is essential for promoting road safety.

    With a consistent commitment to key safety initiatives like NCAP and Euro-NCAP, which assign safety ratings for new cars, TRL plays a vital role in enhancing road safety. Their pivotal position in the SHARP program ensures its continued impact in safeguarding the lives of motorcyclists on UK roads.

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