The Role of Motorsport Safety
Published May 31, 1998 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in United States
Motorsport is an activity in which accidents are expected to occur, but in which the driver and spectators expect a very high level of protection. Much of the physics and biology are the same as those involved in highway accidents, and the motorsport safety research being carried out in both Europe and the USA can make a significant contribution to road safety. Because many motorsport accidents are recorded on video, data is recorded in on-board Accident Data Recorders and detailed post-accident analysis is carried out; motorsport provides an excellent environment for vehicle safety research.
The FIA has researched and implemented changes to vehicle design regulations, circuit design and circuit safety features, driver equipment, race control procedures, and medical intervention standards, to reduce the fatalities and serious injuries per accident by over 90% since the early 1970s. Its target is zero fatalities and serious injuries.
The parallels between this approach and Sweden''s Vision Zero policy are clear. In both, the responsibility for road safety is taken away from the driver and handed jointly to the Administration, and to the system (vehicle and highway) suppliers. Motorsport has been carrying out a similar policy for nearly 30 years and the lessons learned could, with due care, be applied to new approaches to road safety.