Road safety research is an essential element for progress in the fight against accidents. The challenge is to understand the complex mechanisms of the accident and the malfunctions of the traffic system composed of infrastructure, vehicles and road users.
Studies and research are key to understand and improve knowledge about accidents.
Since 1910, the scientific field of accidentology is studied and associated with trauma. But it was not until 1968 that the term "accidentology" became part of the vocabulary. Public research gets organised as well as private research (manufacturers and insurers). The main concepts and research objects appear : "infrastructures", "road user behaviours" and "vehicles". This science includes fields related to techniques and technologies (automotive, control), engineering (roads, kinetics, detection), health sciences (including neuroscience) and clinical pharmacology. Interdisciplinarity also extends to the fields of economics and human sciences, with preventive and educational content constantly updated in line with the improvement of knowledge.
Who carries out these studies and research ?
The interdisciplinarity of road safety requires that research and study organisations work together. Ifsttar and Cerema are the main actors of the scientific and technical network, in addition to Inserr, CNRS laboratories, Inserm, ISPED and university teams. UTAC is approved to carry out approval tests on vehicles and their equipment. R&D (carmakers, equipment manufacturers) is present, particularly through the LAB and Ceesar. A public-private partnership is created with the FSR (Road Safety Foundation). The incentive for research also comes from calls for projects from the ANR (National Research Agency), foundations such as MAIF, VINCI, and in 2017 from the DSR.
The French Road Safety Observatory (ONISR) organises, in conjunction with research projects referents, the monthly meetings of the Road Safety Directorate (DSR) study committee. It capitalizes on and enhances the value of information, in particular by publishing in a synthetic form researchers presentations. It also provides support for the organisation of days or seminars organised with the scientific and technical network.
The 2023-2027 French research strategy
The main areas of work, in particular identified during the calls for research projects, are:
- Accident factors (in particular speed, alcohol, illegal drugs, lack of attention, compliance with traffic rules)
- Road users (people at greater risk of being victims of or responsible for road accidents, such as young people or the elderly; the health of drivers and other road users, medical fitness of drivers, driver fatigue or discomfort, the use of medication)
- The wounded (serious injuries, protection of vulnerable road users - visibility, wearing protective equipment, sharing the road)
- Lifelong learning (driver training practices, continuing education schemes, sanctions)
- Vehicle developments (partially or fully delegated driving, ADAS, soft mobility and innovative vehicles, powered 2-3-4 wheelers)
- Territorial specificities.