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Plight of pedestrians gets top priority in safety push

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-25 09:50
Chinese carmakers are working hard to improve their safety measures to reduce road accidents.[Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Statistics show one fifth of all road traffic accidents belong to category in focus

China is to make pedestrian protection a key part of overall efforts to improve safety-in its new car safety rating system, C-NCAP, starting from 2018.

That's according to a senior official at the China Automotive Technology & Research Center.

Gao Hesheng, deputy director of the center, unveiled the plan in his address to the 2017 International Seminar on Auto Pedestrian Protection, held last week in Tianjin.

He said it was urgent that this safety area be improved, because currently about 20 percent of all victims killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians.

Statistics from the Ministry of Transportation showed a total of 63,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2016, ranking second only to India worldwide.

"China's road and traffic conditions are complicated, thus posing great risks to road users," said Gao.

Gao said China needed to catch up as Europe and Japan had long included protective measures for pedestrians in their respective car safety rating systems.

"We started studies into this aspect in 2009 and in 2016 we established a team with 25 carmakers to improve the level of pedestrian protection," Gao added.

Sun Zhendong, a top expert at the center, told the seminar that the increased protection would mainly focus on protecting pedestrians' heads and legs.

"We protect heads because head injuries kill people most easily, and we protect legs because leg injuries disable people most easily."

Franz Roth, a safety engineer at German carmaker Audi AG, said carmakers should focus on active safety measures, like automatic emergency braking systems.

These systems can warn drivers when nearby road users are detected, and if the driver does not act they automatically brake cars to prevent accidents.

Roth said studies showed that such measures fundamentally changed accident scenarios, and suggested authorities should demand carmakers give priority to such systems when drafting regulations.

Besides Audi, the system can be found in the models of many other carmakers, including Volvo and Ford. The seminar heard that Chinese carmakers have been working hard to improve their safety measures as well.

Zhang Lei, a senior researcher of the technology center at Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co, said: "We have been developing cars that meet the requirements of the safety rating systems both in China and in Europe. And on this basis, we are doing something new."

He said the carmaker was partnering with automotive supplier Bosch, on automatic braking systems, and was testing safety measures like a deployable hood.

The hood, which pops up under impact, is said to create more space to absorb head impact energy and reduce the severity of these injuries.

"We have spent more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) on it, and it will be introduced in our next-generation MPVs," Zhang added.

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