Each year nearly 1.4 million people die as a result of a road traffic crashes ? more than 3200 deaths each day ? and more than half of these people are not travelling in a car. Pedestrians and cyclists pay ? together with motorcyclists ? a very high price for our current surge for mobility and road transport, and the overwhelming individual motorization thereof. 25 to 50 million more people sustain non-fatal injuries from a collision, and these injuries are an important cause of disability worldwide. It is alarming that India has become number one country in the world for road fatalities and 11% of the world?s road accident deaths are happening in India.
Road safety is not a new issue but over the last decade, activity at the international level has gained momentum. The Commission for Global Road Safety issued a call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety in its 2009 Report.
The Decade of Action 2011-2020 is based on the very important guiding principle, that is ? the Safe System approach. This approach aims to develop a road transport system that is equipped to accommodate human error and take into consideration the vulnerability of the human body. It requires recognition that road safety is a shared responsibility of designers of the road transport system as well as users of that system. The goal of the approach is to prevent fatal and severe injuries by identifying and addressing the major sources of error and the design flaws that contribute to them. Road users, vehicles and the road network/environment are addressed in an integrated manner, through a wide range of interventions, with greater attention to speed management and vehicle & road design than in traditional approaches to road safety.
Intelligent Transport Systems & Road Safety
lTS relates to the application of ICT on road transport infrastructure and operations and includes a range of systems to detect incidents, support traffic supervision and manage or provide real-time information to road users and haulers, among other things. ITS has taken a prominent place in many countries? transport policies, and more specifically in the road safety policy orientations for 2011-20, which aim to promote and accelerate deployment of innovative technology in order to improve road safety. Cooperative systems allowing communication between vehicles, from vehicles to road infrastructure and between infrastructure ? thereby enabling travelers to remain connected at all times ? have all the potential to accelerate deployment of advanced driver assistance systems.
ITS is based on intelligent devices placed at the roadside and in the vehicle. By means of communication between these systems and road users (primarily drivers), various road safety problems can be solved more easily. These can be community problems such as speed adaptation as well as individual problems such as a call for help in an emergency. So far ITS has not been widely tried in issues concerning road safety.
It is becoming more and more clear that the introduction of various ITS functions will not just change some of our tasks as road users. Widespread implementation of ITS Functions will completely transform our lives. ITS may drastically modify transport systems, particularly the extent to which they may change the role and the behaviour of the driver. In fact the response of road users to ITS applications, as they are introduced, is the most critical factor for the safety effects of ITS.
ITS can Improve Road Safety in two ways ? direct and indirect. ITS applications that influence road safety in a direct way are:
? Incident detection and warning systems
? VMS- Variable Message Signs
? Violation detection and enforcement systems
? Electronic licenses
? In-vehicle, Incidence Recorders (black boxes, crash recorders)
? Variable speed limits & Intelligent speed adaptation.
Indirect systems are those that change:
? The exposure in traffic or mode of transportation
? Route Planning – Change of routes
? Automatic Toll systems
? Priority to public transport.
ITS has the potential to reduce the probability of crashes,prevent crashes, reduce the injury consequences and understand traffic volume and thus exposure.
ITS can facilitate the introduction of systems such as: electronic driver licenses which directly addresses the driver?s authorization and ability to drive the vehicle, road pricing schemes, travel planners, route guidance, freight & fleet management, and ITS effects on safety through reduced crash risk. A number of systems exist with high safety potential in reducing crash risk both at highways & urban settings. The systems for highways are:
? Motorway control systems
? Driver and vehicle monitoring systems
? Collision avoidance systems
? Incident management
? Automated speed enforcement
? e/Calling & Emergency Medical Services
In urban areas, systems with most safety potential (injury reduction of 30% when fully implemented) are:
? Traffic Management
? Synchronization of Traffic Signals
? Auto Enforcement of Traffic Rules
? Collision avoidance
? Intelligent speed adaptation
? Urban traffic control.
ITS and Reduction of injury
ITS offers sensing and communicating systems that may improve the effectiveness of protective devices such as seat belts and air bags substantially. By means of ITS, it will also be possible in the future to design more intelligent restraint systems. At the present level of development, the largest safety potential exists in increasing seat belt wearing rates by means of seat belt warning and interlock systems and by means of emergency notification systems, alcolocks and mobile zammers while driving.
Big advances in driver assistance
Direct in-car modification of the driving task includes giving information, advice, and assistance or taking over part of the task. This may influence driver attention, mental load, and decision about action (e.g. driver choice of speed). Research and practical experience have shown the importance of advanced driver assistance (ADAS) and other safety-related systems in making roads safer. However, if these systems are to fulfill their potential, their deployment must be as wide as possible. World over, the transport authorities acknowledge the need to accelerate deployment and promote these applications in their road safety policy orientations.
To illustrate the benefits which could accrue from these systems, it is estimated that at least 25% reduction in road crashes related deaths can be achieved in a year if electronic stability control and advanced emergency braking systems alone are fully deployed. However, the full range of ADAS is much wider and also includes lane departure warning, lane change assistance, collision warning and pedestrian recognition systems, as well as intelligent cruise control.
EU countries are phasing in inclusion of ADAS such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, electronic stability control and ABS brake assist as pre-requisites for new vehicles in certain four-wheel passenger and goods categories. It is hoped that compulsory fitting of these systems on all new vehicles and vehicle types within the relevant categories will be introduced by late 2015. However, to achieve full deployment of these systems, it is also necessary to ensure that they are retro-fitted to all used vehicles. Partly to this end, the EU is to launch an assessment study on ADAS and other safety-related technologies which takes account of this possibility.
Monitoring Speed: Speed remains one of the main causes of accidents on roads in India. Speed adaptation, Speed limiters & Speed warning systems are types of ADAS which may play a more prominent role in vehicle safety in the future. Further progress is necessary to increase deployment of ADAS across all vehicle categories.
The high accident risks caused by adverse weather conditions can be decreased by providing information, warnings and support to road users and by combating weather problems with the help of winter maintenance. A Finnish study (R?m? et al., 1996) showed that slippery road warning VMS decreased mean speeds by around 1-2km/h when the signs were lit. Collision warning systems are probably beneficial to road safety in the fog (Saroldi, Bertolino & Sidoti, 1997). The application of ITS can also improve the efficiency of winter maintenance activity on vehicle routes, which in turn leads to an improvement of safety (Federal Highway Administration, 1997).
Emergency Medical Services
The first 10 minutes are recognized as Platinum minutes to save lives. Even the first hour is considered as Golden hour wherein in 50-60% lives can be saved. In case of accident, the satellite-based positioning and other relevant vehicle information can be transmitted to the Public Safety Answering point (automatic or manual activation). Once widely deployed, eCall will save hundreds of lives in India every year, and reduce the severity of injuries and trauma in thousands of cases.
Better communication between vehicles and infrastructure
While advanced assistance to drivers helps them to better control their vehicles, added benefits can come by enabling vehicles to communicate both with each other and with road infrastructure. Development of cooperative systems is essential for this. Co-operative systems are based on the real time transfer of information from vehicle to vehicle (V2V), vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) or infrastructure to infrastructure (I2I) via radio interface. As the capacity and flexibility of information technology and communications increases and costs decrease, it becomes feasible to develop such systems.
The world has recognized the benefits of such systems in its road safety policy orientations, undertaking to further assess them with a view to identifying the most beneficial applications and recommending measures for their deployment. The overarching aim is the development of a harmonized and interoperable cooperative communication system. The ITS directive would subsequently be instrumental in establishing and enforcing, through specifications, the needed infrastructure requirements (functional or operational) for cooperative systems.
As a consequence of rapid development in the field of telematics in India where in we have more than 0.8 billion users of mobile technology, we are about to witness a revolution in vehicle and transport technology. ITS gives us the opportunity to solve acute transport problems across all transport modes, especially as traffic demand and the appalling number of deficiencies in current transport systems are increasing. However, the allocation of parts of the driving task to machines and the implementation of new information and control technologies may also have adverse effects on road safety. These effects may prove substantial, depending on the degree to which driving is virtualized.