1991-10-01

Can Road Transport Informatics Help Vulnerable Road Users? 912855

Road Transport Informatics (RTI) systems for improving the vehicular traffic situation are often aimed at increasing capacities and reducing travel times on urban roads. Such measures may well have severe disbenefits for vulnerable road users in that they are likely to increase vehicle speeds. A small increase in average vehicle speed would result in quite large increases in fatalities and injuries to vulnerable road users. It would also have the effect of making walking and cycling more difficult - for example pedestrians would face increased crossing delays.
There remains the alternative of designing RTI systems specifically to enhance the mobility and safety of vulnerable road users. Yet even here there are a number of difficulties. In particular, it is difficult to conceive of applying systems to confront the problem directly, e.g by equipping cars with vulnerable road user (VRU) detection devices or to equip VRUs with devices that provide advice in difficult situations. The in-car devices have the problem of predicting VRU behaviour (for example, when a pedestrian standing at the kerbs actually going to cross) and the VRU-carried devices are unlikely to be used on a wide scale in the foreseeable future. It therefore seems more fruitful to use RTI in a more indirect manner to enhance VRU safety and mobility.

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