Author(s): Comeau, Monk, Boase, Burns, German
Background/Context: Vulnerable road users, notably pedestrians and cyclists, are at particular risk of death and serious injury when subject to adverse interactions with heavy commercial vehicles. Such situations are primarily a problem in urban environments, and at intersections, where heavy vehicles undertake turning manoeuvres.
Aims/Objectives: A study of real-world collisions involving heavy vehicles and vulnerable road users was conducted to identify the major causal factors related to the occurrence of fatalities in such crashes and to determine a range of appropriate countermeasures.
Methods/Targets: An analysis of Canada's National Collision Database (NCDB) provides a specific perspective on this issue in the wider context of motor vehicle related trauma. Transport Canada has also conducted a detailed review of a series of fatal collisions involving vulnerable road users, heavy trucks and buses.
Results/Activities: The results of the present study demonstrate that the problem is largely due to an inability of the drivers of heavy vehicles to note the presence of adjacent vulnerable road users, and pedestrians and cyclists not being fully aware of the safety implications of interactions between themselves and heavy vehicles.
Discussion/Deliverables: A wide range of countermeasures has been proposed to address the issue of the safety of vulnerable road users. The present study strongly suggests that, for heavy trucks and buses, two very effective measures would be improvements to on-board driver-assistance safety systems, and greater public awareness of the dangers posed by heavy vehicles operating in urban environments.
Conclusions: In recent years, dramatic improvements have taken place in safety systems based on electronic technologies that have been applied to light-duty motor vehicles. The use of these technologies needs to be expanded to heavy trucks and buses in order to provide the drivers of these vehicles with enhanced capabilities to detect nearby vulnerable road users and, similarly, to alert these road users to the presence of the heavy vehicles.