Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crash Prevention Efforts Out of Focus

Although police have determined that car drivers caused more than five times as many crashes as cyclists last year, authorities intend to make "two-wheelers" the focus of accident prevention measures.

That's the counter-intuitive conclusion of the National Accident Prevention Committee (Országos Baleset-megelőzési Bizottság) in light of year-end road-crash data published this week in the Metropol newsaper.

The overall numbers are encouraging, showing that injurious or fatal road crashes in 2011 were down year on year from 16,308 to 15,800 -- a 3.1 percent drop. Fatal injuries were down from 649 to 571, or 12 percent.

Looking at the causes of accidents, Zsolt Halmos, vice-president of the committee (a body of the national police force), had this remarkable thing to say:
 "The National Accident Prevention Committee this year plans to put two-wheelers in the spotlight since last year's statistics show that while those who caused the accidents were predominantly drivers (61 percent), the second-ranking category was cyclists (12 percent)." 
Maybe I'm missing something, but why would the number-two category of offenders be the number-one target of enforcement efforts?

Halmos explained that there's a "misconception" that accidents caused by cyclists are harmful to cyclists only. On the contrary, he said, it's very often the case that a cyclist turns unexpectedly into the path of a car, causing the driver to steer into the opposite lane and get into a head-on collision.

I don't dispute that this sometimes happens. What's left unexamined is that such mishaps end disastrously because the others involved are in cars. 

Sure, there are freak instances when a serious injury or even death results from a cyclist-cyclist or cyclist pedestrian accident. But I would wager that more than 99 percent of road fatalities involve one or more cars. Death and injury in collisions depend on an excess of kinetic energy -- 1/2 mass times velocity squared -- and this is the magic ingredient that motor vehicles bring to road crashes.

That  being the case, why aren't cars in the committee's "spotlight"?

1 comment:

Cycle Showroom said...

Good read, interesting stuff