Reducing road fatalities by 50% - as postulated in the European Union (EU) White Paper - requires research on road user groups and accident configurations that have not been addressed adequately so far: The Workpackage 2.1 of the EU-funded project APROSYS initiated the research on accidents involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and vulnerable road users (VRUs). The project provides tools for evaluating the aggressiveness of HGV in relation to VRU and outlines the add-on solutions and improved designs for an enhanced protection of VRU. Priorities for enhanced VRU protection include the avoidance of run over at closing velocities below 20 km/h by improving the sight to the front and the side of the vehicle and the mitigation of primary and secondary impacts of VRUs at closing velocities between 15 and 40 km/h by increasing the energy absorption and changing the shape of the front end. The Graz University of Technology, the Politecnico di Torino and the Centro Ricerche FIAT studied the different approaches for an energy-absorbing front end that is lightweight, cost-efficient, retrofittable and compact - and that does not limit either the cooling or the lighting of the HGV. The study highlights the injury risk reduction by means of numerical simulations and experimental testing - including a full-scale test with a pedestrian dummy. It is shown that the risk for injuries to head and lower extremities may be reduced by up to 90% at impact velocities of up to 40 km/h. The study also shows that the concept of an energy-absorbing front end for HGVs might contribute to the aims defined in the EU White Paper at low costs. © 2008 Taylor & Francis.
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