Improved vehicle safety standards ‘essential’ to reducing child road deaths

13.44 | 26 February 2018 | | 8 comments

Technologies that reduce speeding – such as ISA and AEB – could be as important for reducing child road deaths as seatbelts, according to the European Transport Safety Council.

In a new report published today (26 Feb), the ETSC says intelligent speed assistance (ISA) and automated emergency braking (AEB) should be fitted as standard on all new cars.

The report highlights that across the EU 8,154 children (aged 14 years and under) have been killed in road traffic collisions in the 10 year period between 2007 and 2016. Approximately half (48%) of these were children travelling in cars, compared to 30% walking and 13% cycling.

The ETSC also says that absent, inappropriate or incorrectly fitted child seats remain ‘a significant problem across the EU’ – adding that mistakes ‘can drastically reduce the effectiveness’ of car seats.

The report points to World Health Organization research which suggests correctly installed and used car seats reduce the likelihood of a road death by up to 80%.

The ETSC is also calling on EU Member States to introduce ‘well-enforced’ 20 mph zones in areas with high levels of walking and cycling, and around schools.

Antonio Avenoso, ETSC executive director, said: “Smart, cost-effective and proven vehicle safety technologies such as AEB and ISA could be as important for saving kids’ lives as the seatbelt.

“But the real change will only come when, just like with seatbelts, these technologies are fitted on every car as standard, not as an optional extra on a select few.

“Not a day goes by without a politician or a carmaker promising that autonomous cars will solve the road safety problem.  But if that day comes, it will take decades.  

“By 2030 perhaps there will already be a few million automated cars on the world’s roads, compared to more than a billion other vehicles, many of which will be those leaving factories this year.  

“There is a grave risk that governments ignore the huge safety benefits that can be achieved by installing proven driver assistance technologies today.”


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    “Has anyone estimated (or will anyone trial) the effects of ISA and AEB to measure the effect of unintended consequences like paying less attention to the task of driving and by defaulting to permitting the technology to do the braking for them. Make no mistake, these people are out there on our roads.”

    It has been suggested that seatbelts by making the driver feel more secure increased the risk to vulnerable road users. AEB, by literally giving the driver a jolt, may be less of a problem.

    Paul Luton, TEDDINGTON
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    I would have thought that evidence of electronic devices which we have had working over the last 10 years or so would have transmitted itself onto our annual stats as reductions in collisions. Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case.

    PS: Human nature being what it is with the apathy and complacency of drivers being commonplace they just can’t be bothered with turning them on once turned off. They believe themselves above the need for such trickery and don’t trust in them in the taking over of control of their vehicle.

    It’s probably going to take some decades before drivers will accept them even though they will probably be unable to buy a car without some electronics being included. They may not use them.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

    In response to Bob asking for evidence that such devices work, every time a collision is avoided or prevented as a result of some intervention – whether it be a technical innovation, education or enforcement campaign – there is no way of knowing what played a part. Near misses are obviously not recorded by the authorities, so apart from anecdotal evidence, it can’t be demonstrated categorically – by statistics – that a particular intervention works…we could on the other hand use our common sense and accept that a device that brings about a safe stop, without which there would have been an impact, should not be dismissed. Also, why would any normal person turn it off, even if it were possible anyway?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

    What’s the point in having all these electronic safety devices if they can be simply turned of or overridden. No point at all. Then we will have a mish mash of different manufacturers adding different safety devices. Like some that will stop at higher speeds and others that will only work at speeds up to 18 mph and then will not guarantee stopping in time enough to prevent some possible injury.

    I don’t believe the last paragraph as its putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5. We have had cars with various electronic safety devices for some years now but where is the evidence that they work. Is it possible that fewer incidents and collisions have occurred? Where is the statistical evidence and if that is not the case are they just trying taking the credit for any reductions.

    As said it will take time and stats before we see just how effective these devices are.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

    As an aside I’d thought you folks would be ecstatic to know that my friend used AEB to assist in parking. It’s surprisingly good at avoiding rather large brick walls as well as people.

    David Weston
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    Perhaps if it was not made known to drivers that their vehicle had AEB in the first place, they would not come to rely on it – it could be a nice surprise for them if it kicks-in….not to mention a wake-up call!

    Incidentally, there is a TV ad running at the moment for a Nissan (I think) which has AEB fitted and it shows the vehicle stopping promptly for a pedestrian, in circumstances which to be honest, are fairly undramatic and would be all in a day’s work for a normal driver. Unfortunately one could infer from the ad that Nissan think their customers are absent-minded and need help stopping.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    Introducing ISA and AEB on new cars will probably be a bit like yeast in dough. And like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS).

    Firstly it may take quite some time to produce a noticeable change, so don’t be over optimistic about quick wins in casualty reduction. It will probably achieve that eventually, when the number of equipped vehicles reaches the critical mass.

    And secondly an unintended consequence of ABS was for a significant section of drivers to rely on the superior performance of ABS which enabled them to brake later, which could increase risk. Some drivers seem to have the ABS kicking in at some point on most journeys.

    Has anyone estimated (or will anyone trial) the effects of ISA and AEB to measure the effect of unintended consequences like paying less attention to the task of driving and by defaulting to permitting the technology to do the braking for them. Make no mistake, these people are out there on our roads.

    In the meantime get those child seats & fittings checked. No technology needed.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    Intelligent speed assistance and automated emergency braking would help prevent collisions generally surely and not just those involving children and would reduce injuries not just deaths.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

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