Mobility is part of daily life. Anyone using the roads is at risk of injury or death in the event of a road accident. Some people are more at risk than others and are commonly referred to as Vulnerable Road Users (VRU). The term has been defined in different ways:
Transport policy makers and road authorities who are responsible for road safety strategies and policies at national and local level need to provide safe road infrastructure that integrates protection for vulnerable road users. ITS technologies can help through:
Vehicle manufacturers are also exploring vehicle protection systems for Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs). These are often based on forward looking cameras mounted on the vehicle, used in conjunction with other in-vehicle safety applications such as forward looking radars and Collision Warning. (See Warning & Control) Video: Inside Ford’s Pedestrian Detection System
Walking is an essential part of daily mobility (if only from a parked vehicle to reach the final destination). As traffic on the roads increases, the potential risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions increases also. The World Health Organisation’s 2013 statistics show that 22% of traffic fatalities globally are pedestrians.
Vehicle speed is a key factor in pedestrian fatalities. The Australian Federal Office of Road Safety and the UK Department for Transport assessed the relationship between the two. The table below hows a dramatic increase in fatalities at higher impact speeds.
|Vehicle speed||Odds of pedestrian death|
The role of ITS applications for enhancing pedestrian safety on the roads include:
New ITS-based developments include:
The key to putting appropriate measures in place is to identify where interventions are needed - high risk accident zones and locations – and to review the effectiveness of available countermeasures. (See Accident Analysis)
WHO (2013) Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners.
Encouragement of cycling as a mode of transport is one way of contributing to sustainable transport objectives. In most countries levels of cycling have declined with increased use of cars, vans and motorised two-wheelers – but an upward trend has been observed recently in highly urbanised areas such as Paris and London linked to deployment of ITS back-office support for city-wide bike hire schemes.
A significant barrier to achieving uptake of cycling are widely held concerns about road safety - due to the amount of traffic on the roads as insufficient provision of cycling-friendly infrastructure.
The role of ITS applications for enhancing cyclist safety include:
New developments to benefit cyclists include:
The key to putting appropriate measures in place is to identify sites which are of concern for cyclist safety such as problematic junctions and roundabouts – together with assessing user acceptance of specific solutions, whether they are cyclists, drivers or other road users including nearby residents.
Rutgersson (2013) A study of cyclists' need for an Intelligent Transport System. Masters dissertation. Chalmers University of Technology: Göteborg, Sweden.
Jordova et al (2012) Recommendations on standardisation, deployment and a research agenda. Deliverable D5.1 of the SAFECYCLE project.
De Jong et al (2012) State of the art applications to enhance the safety of cycling. Deliverable D2 of the SAFECYCLE project.
Children, elderly and disabled are particularly vulnerable to road accidents. These groups have less resilience to falls or collisions and may have limited mobility. They often rely on mobility aids – walking sticks, wheelchairs and pushchairs. Children in particular have a great propensity to be distracted, and when they gain independence they are often inexperienced in road use and its consequences.
The role of ITS applications that benefit the safety of these vulnerable road users include:
The key to putting appropriate measures in place is to identify installation locations where pedestrians are at risk – such as crossing points or junctions adjacent to schools, nursing homes, or a high concentration of disabled pedestrians.
Roadworks occur all the time on the network. Highway authorities and road operators carry out maintenance and improvement works such as road widening, resurfacing, bridge and gantry maintenance, white line painting, litter collection and gully emptying. The providers of utilities such as gas, electricity, water, sewage and telecommunications - also carry out maintenance and repairs to their infrastructure located alongside or below the road.
Road workers are commonly exposed to serious risk of accidents and fatalities. Vehicle speed is often a key factor in road worker fatalities. The role of ITS application in reducing these risks include:
The key is to make drivers aware of the presence and vulnerability of road workers. (See Work Zones)
Safety at street works and road works: a code of practice 2013 (UK)
US Department of Transportation: work zone mobility and safety program
Working animals include guide dogs that help the visually impaired people and horses carrying riders or pulling carts that share the roadway. All are at risk of accidents, many of which are preventable.
There is very little reported experience of technology solutions for working animals. A potential application – for guide dogs and visually impaired people - would be cooperative systems which combine geo-location with communications - for example:
This could be achieved through a combination of Global Positioning Satellites and Radio Frequency Identification. A similar concept might be appropriate for horse riders and horse drawn carts – enabling communication between the equipment worn on the animal and the road infrastructure.