A brief summary of TRL’s work with The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP)
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Offset Deformable Barrier (ODB) frontal impact crash test – devised by TRL. First introduced into Euro NCAP in 1997 before being adopted into UN Regulation 94 in 1998 , our method to assess a vehicle’s safety credentials has contributed to an estimated 78,000 saved lives over the twenty-year period. The ODB was just one of many ways of testing the safety of car design invented by TRL and later adopted by NCAP as a standard against which new car types were measured and approved for release onto the market.
Fast forward to the present day and TRL remains at the forefront of shaping regulation that will save lives and prevent serious injuries. We adopt a system level approach to establish how a combination of measures will work together to make new vehicles safer for both occupants and vulnerable road users, in the event of a road traffic collision (RTC). In 2014 we began a wholesale review of existing car safety regulations, with an eye on emerging automated technologies. Engaging a large stakeholder group, we identified what changes were needed and what was realistic to implement, before analysing the value the proposed integrated measures would deliver. An impact assessment, along with the largest body of peer-reviewed research literature available on the topic was submitted to the European Commission in 2018. The evidence from our research will underpin revisions to European General Safety Regulations for new vehicles for decades to come.
Among the specific recommendations we made is the adoption of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology, which provides feedback to drivers via the accelerator control, if they exceed the speed limit. Drivers can choose to ignore the ISA feedback, although research has demonstrated this approach generates better compliance outcomes, compared with dashboard notifications delivered by Speed Limit Information (SLI) systems. Another measure put forward by TRL to the European Commission is ‘direct vision’ for trucks, to remove blind spots and provide drivers with enhanced visibility of the world around them. Other measures to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, by extending the head impact zone from the top of a vehicle bonnet to include the full windscreen, are also under review.
TRL is currently working on dozens of projects researching the performance and impact of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and their automated technologies. By pooling our knowledge with that gained from other trials, TRL’s research will help to standardise configuration of collision prevention technologies (such a cameras and sensors) and the performance criteria for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as autonomous breaking, driver distraction monitoring and traffic sign recognition. By legislating how automated vehicles must perform, benchmarked against standards proposed by TRL for each proposed measure, The European Commission will ensure the design and operation of CAV technologies always contribute to better safety for all road users.
For new Types; October 2003 for all new vehicles.
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