2.3 - Secondary Safety: Limiting The Impact Of An Accident

Version 2

    Secondary or passive safety includes all of the factors likely to mitigate the consequences of an accident. It mainly comprises the following systems:


    Secondary vehicle safety


    This refers to all of the equipment and measures designed to protect vehicle drivers and passengers, as well as other road users. It includes seat belts, airbags, helmets (for the users of two-wheel vehicles) and the crumple zones at the front and rear of cars, designed to absorb part of the energy of the impact.

    For many years, secondary safety for cars and two-wheel vehicles focused on protecting the driver and passengers. But over the past 15 years, the approach has broadened to include reducing the impact of accidents on road users outside the vehicle. One example is the development of airbags for pedestrians (pop up bonnet): in the event of a collision, electronic sensors trigger the airbags, which open on the vehicle's hood.    


    Secondary infrastructure safety


    Though long overlooked in favor of investments in vehicle safety, secondary infrastructure safety plays a decisive role in reducing accident severity and death tolls. It covers a very diverse array of resources and equipment, including the widespread installation of standard guard rails and guard rails designed to protect motorcyclists, the removal of dangerous obstacles close to roads (trees, electricity facilities, parapets, deep ditches, etc.), the development of recovery zones, etc.


    The responsibility for secondary vehicle safety lies primarily with automakers. It is a major factor in buyers' purchase decision, especially where families are concerned, so is a key commercial stake. As a result, it is the subject of continuous investment and regular progress.

    The responsibility for secondary infrastructure safety lies with the government and local authorities but involves a large number of stakeholders, including public works companies, highway concession companies and infrastructure managers, regional authorities, road safety bodies, the government, associations, etc. It is therefore more complex to install, especially as the investments to be made (making the roadside wider, removing obstacles) generally amount to tens of millions of Euros. It usually takes a partnership or at least a close coordination between various stakeholders to develop this important side of road safety.