Technical Research Centre of Finland explores challenges related to the improvement of traffic safety in the EU
Intelligent vehicle systems and emergency calls would significantly cut road casualties
VTT has coordinated and conducted a survey on how the number of people killed in traffic accidents in EU countries could be cut by utilising intelligent vehicle systems and telematics. The EU aims to reduce road casualties by 50% by 2010.
The survey identifies eleven systems whose introduction should be promoted in particular. The most important safety enhancing systems found on the market include electronic stability systems (such as ESP and ESC) and lane departure warning systems that should also be fitted in small cars.
Several telematics systems are being developed, and the most urgent of them is an electronic emergency call system called eCall. The eCall system detects an accident by utilising the vehicle's sensors, places a call to an emergency response centre and submits necessary information, for example, the exact location of the accident site. A connection for talking between the person in the vehicle and the emergency response centre will also open. As a result, the appropriate service unit finds its way to the correct location quicker.
The plan and the eSafety Implementation Road Maps Working group behind it was coordinated by VTT in cooperation with DEKRA, a German research and testing institute. The European Automotive industry and European road administrations also participated in the planning.
Emergency calls would significantly reduce road casualties
The EU aims to introduce the eCall system by 2009. It is estimated that the system would help to save approximately 6,000 lives in Europe every year.
According to the target set by the Council of State in 2001, the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Finland in 2010 should not exceed 250. This means that the number of road casualties must be at least 125 less than in 2004.
According to VTT's research, 4-8% of all the road casualties in Finland between 2001 and 2003 could have been avoided by using the eCall system. As for motor vehicle accidents in 2004, fourteen lives could have been saved.
The automatic emergency call system also speeds up communication about accidents and helps to minimise the possibility of secondary accidents and to prevent congestion and prolonged travel times.
Finland aims to be the first EU country to introduce the system. VTT recommends that the system is introduced and implemented globally and as quickly as possible.
VTT builds a test environment
VTT has built a test environment that appliance suppliers can utilise to test the functionality of information transfer of their terminal devices in an environment that simulates an authentic emergency response centre.
The environment enables information transfer testing of both ready-fitted and retrofitted appliances.
This also helps authorities to ensure that the information transfer from terminal devices functions appropriately in emergency situations. The eCall information transfer must not disturb the functioning of the systems in emergency response centres either.
Testing is initiated by registering with the service at www.ecall.fi. The service is freely available until the end of 2006.
In Finland the eCall research and the development work of the test environment has been part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications' AINO programme. The programme's objective is to develop driver support services as well as services related to the traffic network's real time state information.