Developments with safer vehicles, and what can be learned from the successful Vietnamese helmet campaign over the last ten years
In the developed world over the last thirty years a major contributor to reducing the effects of collisions (both fatal and serious injury) has been safer vehicles. In the 1980s a slow speed side impact collision could easily result in a fatality to a car occupant. – Unless in one of the pioneer vehicles that did have such protection.
Formula One Motor Racing led the change when the FIA established the first New Car Assessment Programme in Europe. (Euro NCAP). With independent testing consumers could immediately see who was producing 5 star rated cars and the companies that could not get beyond zero stars.
Global NCAP’s mission is now to rid the world’s roads of all zero- star rated new cars by 2020. This will mark an astonishing contribution to road safety by motor racing. It is not just collision protection either, but new technologies which are both low cost and effective to reduce the risk of a collision in the first place. Last year nine Chinese auto makers who manufacture China’s top twelve brands committed to voluntarily fit Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to all their production starting this year.
The FIM is clear that it has a responsibility to advocate for safer motorcycles. There are three key technologies:
- Anti-lock braking systems
- Automatic headlights on systems
- Traction control
In this we are assisted by the work of Global NCAP which has added motorcycle safety to its “Stop the Crash!” campaign.
During the meetings in New York there was a session of the UN Road Safety Collaboration on Safer Vehicles. FIM was able to engage with the Chinese delegation and discuss both AHO and ABS.
The key to improving safety is for countries where the fleet of PTWs is mostly small engine capacity to enact legislation to apply to those. India has achieved this by adopting the road safety aspects of motorcycle Euro 4.
India is following the EU with a law this year. Brazil has legislated too, but only for motorcycles of 300cc and above. As the market is mainly 125cc and 150cc this has no impact where it is really needed in the mass market.
AHO is a system where the headlight on/off switch is not fitted at all. The motorcycle will show its headlight as soon as it is started. To prevent any problems with electrical surge affecting the life of the bulbs a diode is fitted. This is less expensive than a switch anyway.
The motorcycle industry adopted this by voluntary agreement in in Europe in 2001 and by 2003 it was on all models sold in Europe. Later this became part of EU law.
Another organisation that is advocating for AHO on motorcycles is the Safer Roads Foundation led by Michael Woodford MBE. He gave a presentation on this to the Stop the Crash! event in China in 2017. Together with the discussions at the UN FIM hopes that China will soon follow India.
Many small powered two wheelers used in China are electrically powered. For these an LED light for daytime use would not adversely affect the battery range.
Traction control was developed in its modern form in part through motorcycle sports in the FIM MotoGP series. The additional cost today is very low and this system can be found on many motorcycles in the mid-price category in the developed world. As with ESC in cars it could be fitted to vehicles in all markets.
Following the safer vehicles discussions, the afternoon of 13th April included a presentation of the results of ten years since the passing of a helmet law in Vietnam. This was made by Greig Craft President of the AIP Foundation. www.aip-foundation.org
The estimates of the government in Vietnam are of saving of US $3.5 billion dollars to the economy from the reductions in deaths (estimate at 15,000 over ten years) and 500,000 fewer head injuries over the same period.
Delegates discussed the issue of the type of helmet being used. For tropical countries a ventilated helmet is essential and those that meet UN ECE 22 and similar standards are usually too expensive. Vietnam uses its own national standard developed with the help of AIP Foundation.
New developments with cycle helmets (in Europe) are interesting. Some of the high-end products are ventilated -as always with a cycle helmet - but also meet UN ECE the motorcycle helmet standard. It is possible that new higher protection helmets could be developed that are still affordable for markets such as Vietnam.
The work of AIP Foundation was recognised with the first award of the FIM Road Safety Award back in 2010.
The UN ECE will meet again – in Geneva – in November.