African road safety challenges are numerous and complex. Globally, only 2% of car fleet is in Africa, yet 16% of road deaths and 44% of global pedestrian and cyclist fatalities occur on this continent. Road safety and socioeconomic development are interconnected. In addressing these challenges, the European and African Unions seek to intensify global cooperation to accelerate African road safety improvements. In line with this drive and in addressing the HORIZON-CL5-2021-D6-01-11 call topic, TRANS-SAFE leverages on existing partnerships to collaboratively design sustainable interventions that aim to radically transform road safety systems in Africa.
The mandatory requirements of vehicle safety are defined in the type-approval legislation, e.g., the UNECE regulations. The regulations define the minimum requirements for passive and active vehicle safety on the public side, while New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) organisations work through consumers.
Different regions apply different testing programs, adapted to the local development of vehicle safety features, then typically monitored and assessed through periodic technical inspections (PTIs) of roadworthiness systems such as steering, brakes, tyres, and lights. According to a study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL 2019), ensuring a minimum set of operational safety features leads to a 30% reduction in mortality and morbidity. PTIs have the potential to decrease the number of vehicles involved in fatal crash due to technical defects by 50%.
Baseline (Current situation in Africa): The type-approval of new vehicles varies widely among countries, but Africa is the only region that does not have its own NCAP organisation. The #SaferCarsForAfrica Campaign by Global NCAP has only tested a few cars but has indicated that there are serious concerns regarding the lack of safety equipment, and poor structural integrity of vehicles sold even in wealthier African countries, such as South Africa. Due to the higher average age of the vehicle fleet (between 15 and 20 years), after-market modifications, as well as the significant share of imported, cheap used vehicles from other regions (including Europe and Asia), the mechanical condition of vehicles in the region is a major concern. Only few African countries implement PTI in their road vehicle legislation, and harmonization is largely absent.
The overall objective of the project is to promote radical transformation towards road safety improvement in Africa, through tested and validated road safety solutions, with a high level of scalability and replicability.
Regarding used vehicles, the project will focus on their mechanical condition. A pilot study, focused on the state of vehicle safety systems, will be performed. Furthermore, aftermarket systems for increasing the safety of the road vehicles, including mobile apps with advanced driver assistance system functionalities (ADAS), and retrofit devices, will be evaluated. The relative achievements and challenges faced by TRANS-SAFE African partners where PTIs have been implemented will be investigated and findings will inform relevant toolkit aspects.
Despite the safety of new vehicles has increased significantly in recent years, due to technological development of passive (crash protection) and active (crash avoidance) systems, the penetration of such systems in low-income countries is marginal. Furthermore, the imported used vehicles in poor condition are threats to the safety of the vehicle fleet. Removing unsafe vehicles from use on African roads is not a simple endeavor, given already limited motorization and increased prices associated with newer vehicles in better condition. This task will analyze and propose processes to reduce the safety issues of all groups of vehicles, such as new, in-operation and used imported, focusing on heavy-duty vehicles and vehicles used for public transport.
Within the task, two additional safety relevant studies will be performed: (i) assessment of aftermarket options for driver assistance systems based on smartphones to warn the drivers about accident risk factors and (ii) safe cargo securing and dimensioning to reduce the accident severity.
Harnessing outputs of WP1 and WP2 along with European partner expertise in vehicle safety development, Task 3.1 will complement the associated demonstration in Task 4.2, outcomes of the task will be:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement number 101069525.