Author(s): McClafferty, Shkrum, Halari
Data on VRU collisions are needed to predict and assess the real-world performance of new crash avoidance and crash protection safety features that are entering the Canadian fleet. Transport Canada, in partnership with the Western Motor Vehicle Safety (MOVES) Research Team, are conducting a review of fatal pedestrian and cyclist collisions in Ontario. The review involves a series of retrospective collision investigations into vulnerable road user (VRU) fatalities.
Left turn collisions are a common cause of serious pedestrian injury. These collisions typically occur at impact speeds below 40 km/h where a pedestrian detection system with automatic emergency braking could be of benefit. This paper provides preliminary results from analysis of the completed data collection for pedestrians struck by a vehicle turning left.
VRU Death Investigation Reports are being reviewed at the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario. The study is focused on pedestrian and cyclist deaths that occurred from 2013 to 2020 where a post-mortem was conducted. The files under review contain the Coroners Investigation Report, Post-Mortem Examination and Toxicology Report and may contain reports from outside agencies including police. In-depth police collision data were simultaneously collected and analyzed on a sample of the fatal pedestrian and cyclist collisions. Field investigations were also conducted by the study team on several cases.
Injury and collision data were reviewed for 600 collisions involving 522 pedestrian fatalities and 78 cyclist fatalities. The striking vehicle was turning left in 78 of the pedestrian cases (15%) and just 1 cyclist case. The pedestrian collisions typically occurred during daylight hours (N=59), on a dry road (N=61), in an urban area (N=77), and at an intersection (N=74). In most cases the posted speed limit was 50 km/h or lower (N=62). The striking vehicle was most frequently a passenger car (N=20). Pickup trucks (N=19) and buses (N=10) were over-represented in the left turn collisions. Approximately 54% of the vehicles were aged 5 year or less. Older pedestrians aged 65 and over were most common (N=44) as were female pedestrians (N=52). By comparison, drivers were most frequently male (N=48) and under 65 years old (N=57). The condition of the pedestrian was reported to be normal for 62 of the 68 pedestrians where toxicology data was available. Most pedestrians were crossing at an intersection with the right of way when they were struck by the turning vehicle (N=63).
Pedestrian impacts with a vehicle turning left are a common cause of serious injury and fatality. The collisions frequently involve older pedestrians crossing the road with the right of way. The left-turn collisions typically occur at intersections and involve approach speeds below 40 km/h. Driver inattention was a factor in most of the cases in this study. The high incidence of pickup trucks suggests that view obstructions also play a significant role.
Pedestrian detection systems hold great potential to reduce the frequency of severe left turn collisions with pedestrians. Further investigation of real-world collisions are needed as these advanced crash avoidance systems are steadily becoming more common in the Canadian fleet.