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  • Transportation has come a long way in the past few decades with a focus on intelligence, comfort and sustainability. As new technology shapes how people travel, Standards keep the focus on safety.

    • The comfort of road vehicles has evolved significantly. Most features that make driving comfortable are now available with the touch of a button, or at the ease of a voice command. Not just a comfortable ride, the world of transport has shifted greatly to focus on the needs of the environment as well, with sustainability top of mind for most - if not all - automotive manufacturers.

      However, there is one constant when developing and improving how we travel on the road - safety. A focus on safety is at the centre of every aspect of a road vehicle, where identifying and mitigating risks is essential for daily use.

      Road traffic safety (RTS) around the world 

      With an estimate of 1.35 million deaths from road traffic crashes each year and road traffic injuries being the lead cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years1, road traffic safety (RTS) is a major concern globally.

      Road traffic safety includes the measurements and processes in place to prevent road users from injury or death. The Safe System approach considers principles for road safety management that prioritises health and safety when using transportation. The Safe System model consists of four main elements2:

      1.      1. Safe roads and roadsides 

      1.      2. Safe speeds 

      1.      3. Safe vehicles 

      1.      4. Safe road users 

      To reduce the impacts of road traffic related risks, it is important that a standardised and comprehensive approach is accepted and implemented through organisations and governments worldwide. 

      To guide best practice in RTS management, ISO 39001 was developed. This international Standard aims to assist organisations to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with injury or death on roads and identifies components of an RTS management system that can enable an organisation to reach its RTS targets and results.

      • A focus on functional safety

        Alongside RTS management is the safety approach for the product itself. The international Standard ISO 26262 presents a set of 12 Standards that address and guide organisations through product lifecycle processes in the automotive industry and address level of risk to systems or components.

        The set of Standards were developed from the IEC Standard IEC 61508, being the generic functional safety Standard for electrical and electronic elements and systems. As the automotive industry is complex and constantly changing to make way for new technologies, there is a need to provide systems that prioritise safety. ISO 26262 provides best practice guidelines as a unified and internationally accepted Standard for automotive electrical and electronic systems. 

        Safety from top to road

        In day to day travel, there is a variety of equipment and products aimed to reduce road safety risks. For example, some of these Products (& associated Standards) include:

        • Helmets: AS/NZS 1698:2006 which specifies requirements for protective headgear for vehicle users and aims to reduce the impact or damage to the head of the user.  

        • Seat belts: SAE J 383:2014 has been designed and improved to recommend designs for the location of seat belt assembly anchorages to place pressure on stronger parts of the human body.  

        • Child restraint systems (CRS): ISO 29061-4:2017 provides criteria for judgement of usability of child restraint systems and other daily handling aspects. 

        • Air bags: SAE J 1855:2010 describes the method for safe deployment of air bags in vehicles equipped with electrically actuated air bag systems.  

        • Bicyclist and pedestrian detection: ISO 22078:2020 and ISO 19237:2017 specifies the concept of operation, minimum functionality, system requirements, system interfaces and test procedures for Bicyclist Detection and Collision Mitigation Systems (BDCMS) and Pedestrian Detection and Collision Mitigation Systems (PDCMS), respectively. 

        Safety with scope to innovate 

        A standardised approach to keeping everyone safe on the road does not mean there is a lack of scope for innovation. Standards provide a best practice approach and guide organisations on the benchmarks of what processes, systems and products must meet. These benchmarks help to ensure safety is a priority in the automotive industry, allowing room for enhancements and developments with an understanding of how these should perform when relating to road safety risks.


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