Authorities and governments around the world are pouring millions and millions of dollars into infrastructure improvements, with mixed results. Here is a sampling of the challenges and opportunities that these ventures present.
The probability of a crash and its effects are both influenced by speed. You are twice as likely to kill anyone if you hit them at 35mph (56km/h) as if you hit them at 30mph (48km/h). Driving within speed limits and wearing seat belts will save approximately 12,000 lives and avoid 180,000 accidents in Europe alone each year.
Legislation, road construction, and tougher compliance are all options for reducing vehicle speeds (e.g., speed cameras). Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) is an advanced concept in which the car ‘knows’ the speed limit for the road it is driving on and triggers audio and visual signals if speeds are exceeded.
In Sweden, a three-year ISA project was completed, with various systems mounted in 5000 cars, buses, and trucks. According to the Swedish National Road Administration, the systems have a high degree of driver acceptance, implying that they could minimize crash accidents by 20% to 30% in urban areas.
Organizations like the Traffic Plans Company try to make people aware of this and take this into account when planning infrastructure.
Wearing a seatbelt
Today, you are half as likely as thirty years ago to be injured in a car accident. Airbags and sophisticated electronics, among other things, help to keep you safe in your vehicle.
The seat belt, on the other hand, is perhaps the best safety system ever invented: it can reduce the likelihood of mortality in an accident by up to 60%.
The implementation of compulsory seat belts in many places has increased their use; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in the United Kingdom, use of the front safety belt improved from 37% to 95% following mandatory use, followed by a 35% decrease in hospital admissions for road traffic accidents.
Child safety seats
According to the Centres for Disease Prevention and Control, using child safety seats reduces the risk of car accidents by 71 percent in small kids and 54 percent in children aged one to four years (CDC).
Availability and cost can be obstacles to using children’s safety seats in developing nations, although usage can be restricted even in high-income countries; a CDC report in the United States found that more than 618,000 children aged 0 to 12 travelled in cars without using a children’s safety seat, booster seat, or a seat belt at least occasionally.
Helmets are the most important form of safety for cyclists in the event of an accident, reducing the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88 percent. Bicycle helmets are now required in some countries. In countries where helmet use is not mandated by regulation, the rate of use is usually less than 10%.
Helmets are also critical for motorcycle riders, particularly in developing countries where motorcycle use is high but helmet use is poor. According to study presented by the WHO, helmet use expanded significantly in Thailand in the year following the implementation of a helmet rule, while motorcycle head injuries declined by 41% and deaths plummeted by 21%.