As biking grows in popularity in the U.S., car-on-cyclist collisions continue to be a major issue for all. A one-year study in Portland, Oregon, found that out of 1,000 cyclists, 18 percent suffered at least one injury, and 30 percent of those injured required medical attention. What to do? How bout this: Take the same airbag technology used to protect occupants inside the vehicle and move it to the outside.
Danish design company TNO is working on just that, and is getting a financial boost to the tune of 1 million euros from the Dutch government to develop a new breed of exterior airbags.
In the Netherlands, where bicycles are ubiquitous, approximately 200 cyclists (and 70 pedestrians) are killed each year after being struck by a car. If a car is going faster than 25 mph – the average speed of an accident in the Netherlands – a collision with a bicyclist is usually fatal. Helmets don’t help much during an impact of 12 mph or greater.
TNO looked at every detail of a cycle crash, specifically at the impact points at a vehicle’s front end, concluding that automatic braking and external airbags positions at the bottom of the windshield would reduce the severity of crashes dramatically.
Using information from a camera mounted on the rear-view mirror, the system preps for a collision, and if the car strikes a bicyclist, the airbag will inflate and cushion the rider’s impact on the windshield.
The camera diagnostics that initiate the automatic braking and airbag deployment are the result of a year’s testing while driving through major Dutch cities in a camera-equipped car. After all those near-misses with pedestrians and cyclists, the system has been optimized to kick in only when it calculates a high risk of collision.
For Volvo, this is nothing new. The 2013 V40 already has this feature, but the technology won’t be making its way across the Atlantic. So until a version becomes standard, keep your helmet on and your lights blinking.
Bicycle accidents in Arizona are becoming more and more of an issue on a daily basis. Do you think by adding airbags to the outside of vehicles, that it will lower accident totals? The city averages between 450 and 500 accidents a year involving bicycles and vehicles, resulting in around 10 deaths per year, according to the city’s Street Transportation Department.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Arizona has consistently been in the top 10 for bicycle traffic fatalities. In 2009, the state ranked fifth in the nation, although it is the 16th-most-populous state. The state saw 19 bicycle traffic fatalities in 2010 and 25 in 2009. The states with more deaths are considerably more populous — California, Florida, Texas, New York and others.
As a Personal injury lawyer in Phoenix, there are many examples where people who were hit were hit by distracted drivers. Adding more education for cyclists/pedestrians/ and yes even drivers will help decrease accidents over all, especially with this new added technology.