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Michelin Challenge Design 2007 - 'Sharing the Road'

Tue, 10 Oct 2006

It's estimated over 1.2 million people die each year in traffic mishaps around the world. That's 3200 per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year after year. With such statistics in mind, 'Sharing the Road' was designated as the theme for the 2007 Michelin Challenge Design competition. More than 260 entries came from entrants from more than 50 nations, which for this year focuses specifically on designs to enhance road safety for North America. The best of those entries will be displayed at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, January 13-21 in Detroit.

The Michelin Challenge Design jurors - including Stewart Reed and Geoff Wardle from Art Center College of Design; Ruben Perfetti, design director of Volvo Trucks North America and Dr. Anthony Stein at Safety Research Associates, Inc. - recognize the influence vehicle design can have on crash injuries.

Recently, transportation design department chair Steward Reed and associate chair Geoff Wardle took students from the Art Center College of Design, one of the world's leading automotive design schools, to a Los Angeles area auto salvage yard. Reed, who serves as jury chairman for the Michelin Challenge Design, said there's another reason for his students to see the aftermath of automotive collisions - that the romance of designing cars cannot ignore the responsibility of making those cars as safe as possible for all road users.

"We want them to look at the wrecked cars in the salvage yard and think about safety issues," says Reed. "Did the doors remain secure? Was the occupant capsule violated? Was there both a primary and secondary impact?"

"In the trucking industry, safety is very important," adds Ruben Perfetti, director of design for Volvo Trucks North America and a Michelin Challenge Design judge. "We are very conscious of the other people we're sharing the road with and we approach it from a global perspective."

Perfetti also noted that an emphasis on safety is one reason that commercial truck drivers undergo much more rigorous and regular testing, both in terms of medical exams and driving skills, than do the drivers of passenger cars.

In addition to continuing improvements in active and passive safety systems for vehicles, issues such as driver training, aging drivers, driver distractions and alcohol use; road maintenance, signage and lighting; real-time route guidance to smooth traffic flow, and awareness of and consideration for two-wheel and pedestrian traffic - the so-called vulnerable road user - must be considered and addressed said Anthony Stein, president and technical director of Safety Research Associates, Inc. and a Michelin Challenge Design juror.

"Small, large and huge vehicles; driving, walking, riding all need to co-exist," says Stein. "People who can't afford to drive [including those using buses and other public transportation systems such as rails on the roadway systems being built in several major American cities] all need to use the road safely."

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