Accident Study: The Deceptive Safety of Country Roads


The deceptive safety of the country roads

Accident Study: The Deceptive Safety of Country Roads-roads

Dekra has also investigated the consequences of a frontal car crash against a motorcycle. The consequences for the motorcyclist are serious.

Source: DEKRA

The relaxed and brisk cruising on country roads is usually particularly enjoyable for drivers. That is why many feel much safer outside of built-up areas than in the city or on the motorway. Statistics, accident logs and simulations in crash tests show something completely different.

Ob German avenue road, half-timbered road, wine route or road of romance: many country roads in Germany sound like a journey of discovery and a short vacation. Between meadows and forests, they lead past farms, small villages and picturesque towns. The cruising speed is a maximum of 100 kilometers per hour, and venerable trees often line the roadside. But the idyll is deceptive: almost two thirds of all fatal traffic accidents in Germany occur on country roads; In 2007 there were 3,012 fatalities.

According to the 2008 Axa traffic safety report, 41 percent of motorists consider country roads to be safer than the autobahn (35 percent) and city traffic (15 percent). Many similar road users evidently encourage a feeling of insecurity. The danger when driving overland, on the other hand, lies in the mixture of the few but different road users: motorcycles, cars, transport vehicles and agricultural machines – they are all on the road.

In addition, there is often habit and recklessness. “The same route is often used,” says Anton Brunner, longstanding head of accident research at Axa Winterthur. "You feel safe and tend to speed too fast on winding roads." The fact that oncoming vehicles can suddenly appear on familiar routes, which quickly pose a danger in confusing bends, is repeatedly disregarded. The technical inspection company Dekra, in cooperation with the Axa insurance company, has simulated a number of typical country road accidents on a test site in Wildhaus, Switzerland.

The first crash test involves a risky overtaking maneuver: a heavy motorcycle equipped with two dummies overtakes a car at around 60 km / h. An oncoming vehicle traveling at 30 km / h is overlooked: a head-on collision occurs. In the event of an impact, the driver and passenger are thrown headlong over the handlebars. The force of the impact is so great that the passenger flies several meters above the car onto the road. “The involuntary take-off looks spectacular, but it can be life-saving,” explains Crash Manager Brunner. "A lot of energy is broken down in the air!"

With a little luck, the passenger can get away with a few broken bones. The motorcycle pilot, on the other hand, has little chance of survival: If his head hits the hard edge of the car’s roof, even a helmet won’t help. The seat belt occupants in the vehicle suffer only minor injuries thanks to the deploying airbags.

In the second accident attempt, a tractor with two loaded trailers crosses the road to get from one field to the other. It takes a few seconds for the 18-meter-long team to cross the lane. An approaching car can no longer brake and crashes into the second trailer at 72 km / h.

Since agricultural tractors and trailers generally have no underrun protection, the consequences are dramatic: the car drives under the loading sill of the trailer and half shoots under it. The windshield and the front roof pillars are dented by the immense impact energy, and the roof is sheared off towards the rear. For the passengers in the car – despite the seat belts and airbags being fastened – there is virtually no chance of survival.

Dekra accident researcher Jorg Ahlgrimm says: "Due to their low speeds, agricultural vehicles are often classified as harmless." The dimensions of the vehicles – and the resulting time required to cross the lane – are often forgotten.

The third attempt at an accident ends in a tree: a small car comes off the lane at high speed, overturns and hits a tree trunk as it overturns. The passenger side hits the sturdy wood with force. The passenger cell is dented so hard that the dummy in the passenger seat is badly damaged

In fact, the risk of being killed in a tree impact is extremely high: "When you collide with a tree, the impact energy is concentrated on a small area on the vehicle," explains Ahlgrimm. His colleague Anton Brunner therefore has a piece of advice for the road planners: "Bushes on the roadside serve the same purpose as trees and slow down vehicles leaving the lane without endangering the occupants."

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