Researchers 'Trace' Crash Causation

Researchers in Europe continue to study what causes crashes and how to best mitigate them, preparing for the eventual formation of a Europe-wide road safety policy. Their latest effort, the Traffic Accident Causation in Europe (TRACE) is intended to provide an overview of the road accident causation issues based on the analysis of any current available databases which include accident, injury, insurance, medical and exposure data.

The goal is to identify, characterize and quantify the nature of risk factors, groups at risk, specific conflict driving situations and accident situations; and to estimate the safety benefits of a selection of technology-based safety functions.

A program funded by the European Commission, the regulatory body for the 27-nation European Union, TRACE brings together 21 organizations from eight countries. The study is to be completed in June.

Last month two investigators from the Crash Research Department of the Centre for Automotive Research and Development in Spain queried and analyzed the MAIDS database at the European Association for Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) offices in Brussels, Belgium.

MAIDS is the most comprehensive, in-depth data available for powered two-wheeler accidents in Europe. The investigation was conducted during three years on 921 accidents from five countries using a common research methodology.

The researchers from Spain focused on the seven most frequent accident scenarios detected in MAIDS, as they had done with several other extensive crash analysis databases. Their goal:
  • To identify the specific accident causes for riders
  • To estimate the risk of being involved in an accident in the seven most frequent accident scenarios detected.
They say several different statistical techniques were applied in their research. Their findings will integrate the conclusions of the TRACE study.

In related news, the European Commission also recently granted financial backing to eSum, a project focusing on rider safety in four major European capitals.

eSum is a collaborative initiative between industry and government that aims to identify, develop and adopt measures designed to deliver safer motorcycling in urban areas. Organizers say their goal is to demonstrate that a constant reduction in powered two-wheeler accidents is feasible via the adoption of dedicated traffic management policies and strategies for motorcycles.

Studies show two-thirds of all accidents occur on roads in urban areas, where 80% of European citizens live. As a result, the European Commission says it?s convinced the contribution of such a focused study is a crucial element in the formation of a Europe-wide road safety policy.

Barcelona, Paris, London and Rome have been selected for involvement. Investigations will start with urban road safety benchmarking and accident analysis. Organizers will seek to identify features for safer vehicles, best practices for targeted enforcement and appropriately designed infrastructure, as well as ways of improving driving and riding behavior.

A diagnosis will be made on collision prevention, accident avoidance and mitigation of accident severity, and the analysis of the gathered data will be made available in a EU-wide database. Best practices will be transmitted via campaigns and training materials.

Manufacturers taking part include BMW Motorrad and the Piaggio Group. Also involved: the European Motorcycle Manufacturers Association (ACEM), Barcelona city authority, Transport for London, the Mobility Agency for the city of Rome (ATAC), Marie de Paris, Direccion General de Trafico (DGT), Altran DSD, University of Florence and Athens medical school.

More About MAIDS
The accident data collected in the MAIDS study indicated that the object most frequently struck by a motorcycle in an accident was a passenger car. The second most frequently struck object was the roadway itself, either as the result of a single vehicle accident or of an attempt to avoid a collision with another vehicle.

The cause of the majority of two-wheeler accidents collected in this study was found to be human error. The most frequent human error was a failure to see a motorcyclist within the traffic environment, due to lack of driver attention, temporary view obstructions or the low conspicuity of the two-wheeler.

Traveling and impact speeds were found to be quite low, most often below 30 mph. There were relatively few cases in which excess speed was an issue related to accident causation.

See the MAIDS website for more information.