Every year, according to WHO (World Health Organization), about 1.35 million people die as a result of road traffic accidents. These accidents cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product. As practice shows, the most affected are «vulnerable road users»: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
According to statistics, 93% of road deaths occur in countries with low and middle income, although these countries account for about 60% of all vehicles in the world. Children and young people aged 5–29 5-29 years are most at risk, and most of them are men.
To reduce the tragic figures, governments of different countries are developing special programs aimed at reducing road deaths. For example, Russia has a «Road safety Strategy for 2018–2024 », and Sweden has a Vision Zero concept. However, the results of their implementation are completely different.
For example, in Sweden only three out of 100,000 people die in road accidents.. For comparison, in the EU this figure does not exceed 5.5 per 100 thousand people, in the US — 11.4. In the Dominican Republic, 40 people per 100,000 inhabitants die on the roads. And in Russia, for every 100,000 vehicles, there are about 60 deaths.
Implementation of the «Strategy» in Russia
The program includes improvement of road conditions and infrastructure, improvement of drivers’ career guidance, and toughening of vehicle maintenance requirements. However, people see this as the tyranny of the government. And they try to deceive system in every possible way – to avoid inspection, to buy a driving licence, to sit down drunk behind a wheel, etc.
Yes, the Ministry of transport has recently reported that 80% of the country’s federal highways have been brought to standard. However, the markings on these roads disappear after winter. Most of them are two-lane. It is impossible to install there a road safety barrier that would divide the directions of traffic. And people don’t really want to slow down on dangerous turns. It turns out that the results of the implementation of the program is not visible.
Vision Zero Concept Vision Zero concept («zero mortality concept») has been in force in Sweden since 1997. Its purpose is the complete exclusion of death in a road accident. It is based on the statement that «Man is imperfect». Therefore, the authors of the concept adhere to the principle that people can make mistakes, and the road system — cannot.
As part of the Vision Zero project in Sweden, ordinary two-lane roads were converted, where each lane occupied 3.5 meters, and another 3 meters from each were allocated for the roadside. They began to implement the scheme «2+1» throughout the country and even in neighboring Denmark. Now a three-lane road consists of two lanes of traffic in one direction and a single-row in the oncoming. The lanes alternate every few kilometers. In addition, the lanes are divided with a cable fencing. Such roads can be built not only from scratch, as new ones, but also the existing roads can be transformed in the same way, if their width is not less than 13 meters.
In the first 10 years after the introduction of Vision Zero Swedes annually saved about 145 lives. During this period, construction began on 12,600 safe pedestrian crossings, including pedestrian bridges and zebras, marked not only with road markings but also with light alarms and equipped with «silent cops». According to some estimates, these measures have reduced deaths in road accidents by half. The result of introducing Vision Zero concept is a reduction in the annual number of victims on the roads of the country by more than 50%.
To achieve «absolute zero» the Swedes have solved firstly all the problems with the quality of highways and branched road network. Secondly, they have completely re-equipped rescue services. In addition, they tightened requirements to the safety of cars. Six airbags and ESP has long been the norm for them. While in the vast CIS millions of cars do not even have fire extinguishers.
The next thing that Sweden plans to do to further reduce accidents on the roads is to get rid of the human factor. That is, to create cars equipped with warning and blocking systems when a drunk driver is detected. To implement new safety systems, such as an over-speeding warning device or unfastened seat belt. To provide for the widespread use of adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems at the legislative level. And to offer later to everybody to travel in drones.
What are the safety risks?
The Russian «Strategy» considers several areas of risk that affect road safety. Among them – uncontrolled growth in the number of cars, coupled with insufficient development of roads. The next point is the lack of an effective mechanism for monitoring the technical condition of cars. Yes, the country plans to introduce photo and video recording of the fact of passing technical maintenance. But the result of such a measure does not promise to be high. Based on these data it will not be possible to assess the safety of some 10-year-old car, only by the fact that it came to a diagnostic station. And what the owner of the car agreed upon with a technical employee is a mystery, covered with darkness.
In addition to obvious reasons, experts also point out the decrease in the average age of drivers and the imperfection of the system for admission of drivers to participate in road traffic. It’s about training in driving schools and obtaining medical certificates. Both «pieces of paper» can be quietly bought at fairly fixed rates. The next point is the imperfection of the current system of notification about accidents and the system of assistance to victims of accidents. And the WHO complements the picture with distracted driving (using a mobile phone while driving), driving under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, non-use of motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints, as well as untimely assistance after an accident.
As you can see, for the most part, a person constantly puts himself at risk. And he does it often quite consciously, hoping for «maybe».
How can the issue of road safety be resolved radically?
General designer Anatoly Yunitsky initially conceived SkyWay string transport as a safe alternative to the conventional one. The traffic raised to the second level is the first and most important step that will allow to avoid numerous accidents. After all, the highways that are above the surface of the earth, limit human access. And, therefore, there will be no downed pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The possibility of collision of SkyWay rolling stock with any dangerous objects outside the system is 100% excluded. The possibility of collision of vehicles within the system is fundamentally eliminated due to the movement along the track, impossibility of overtaking, exit to the oncoming lane, absence of intersections. The overpass allows to create road junctions where modules can pass by each other, being at different levels, the number of which is not limited.
The next step, which has already been implemented in SkyWay transport complexes, and which the Swedes have already realized, is the elimination of the human factor. Unibuses and other types of Skyway transport are controlled by an intelligent system that constantly receives and analyzes information from a huge number of sensors. It makes its own decision to slow down if it «sees» a potential danger on the road or receives a signal from other vehicles about an emergency.
Recently, Anatoly Eduardovich demonstrated, how far the computer vision of unibus has advanced. And Yuri Sorokin, who leads the development of artificial intelligence and automated control systems, explained how this was achieved, and what the grandiose merit of SkyWay transport engineers is. The intelligent system is able to control safety inside the vehicle, monitor the situation outside throughout the entire route, and most importantly – provide a comfortable and trouble-free travel for passengers.
Of course, you can recall driverless cars. But we have repeatedly said that their level of development cannot yet compete with SkyWay intelligent systems. At least simply because of the fact that a «smart» car will still have interferences on roads in the form of other traffic participants. And the number of accidents associated with unmanned vehicles still does not come to naught. There are also a number of problems that the inventors of autopilots have not yet figured out how to solve: identification of signs that are damaged by vandals or spoiled due to weather conditions. «Moral» issues related to autopilot decision-making, too. For example, who to save in an emergency – a passenger or a pedestrian? Legislative regulation of autopilot traffic, in addition. Therefore, it is too early to change to this type of transport.
However, something is still possible – to build SkyWay transport systems. Imagine, no more disorderly drivers who bought a license or sat behind the wheel with a hangover. Bad road cover made by unqualified workers on corrupted budget. Children, animals, crazy motorcyclists and self-confident cyclists – no one else will prevent you and your loved ones from getting safely from point A to point B. And this is the only and most correct solution to the issue of mortality on the roads, if we want to reduce it to absolute zero.