LAB : 50 years at the service of Road Safety

Created in 1969 by PSA and Renault, the LAB is the Laboratory of Accident Analysis, Biomechanics and Human Behavior

Since 1969, Groupe PSA and Groupe Renault have been advancing road safety through the LAB, their Laboratory of Accident Analysis, Biomechanics and Human Behavior.

Founded by Claude Tarrière in 1969, it was the first example of two large carmakers joining forces in a non-competitive field in Europe. The LAB is a major contributor to the scientific literature in its field.

Behind major advances in terms of road safety – knowledge of the behavior and tolerance levels of humans in all their diversity (age, height, sex, position, etc.) – the LAB helps market participants design forward-looking technologies to secure road user safety.

The LAB works on collaborative projects in partnership with government departments (e.g., the French Ministry of the Interior and Interministerial Delegation for Road Safety (DSR)), the European Commission, (Bureau de Normalisation de l’Automobile (BNA), OICA, EAMA, CCFA, PFA, etc.), the United Nations and independent approval bodies (UTAC-CERAM), and CEESAR, devoted association to scientific research in road safety

The decline in fatal accidents is chiefly attributable to technical progress in cars. Road fatalities peaked at 16,881 in 1973 in France. But the number has been reduced by 80% in the space of 45 years, to 3,259 in 2018.

The LAB’s work and objectives

In response to demand from automakers or partners, the LAB studies advances in industrial research in three fields:

  • Accident analysis.
  • Biomechanics.
  • Human behavior.

 

Accident analysis: studying the causes of accidents

  • Establishing a road safety and automotive safety diagnosis.
  • Assessing the real effectiveness of safety systems.
  • Estimating the potential gain for victims depending on the types of impacts and the prospective protection systems.
  • Developing evaluation methodologies and digital simulation models.
  • Issuing recommendations and proposals to carmakers.

 

Biomechanics: analysis of injury mechanisms

  • Developing tools (models, dummies, etc.) and knowledge (criteria, injury risk curves, injury mechanisms, etc.).
  • Anticipating developments in engineering and regulation in three areas, namely crash test dummies, biomechanical criteria and virtual testing.
  • Contributing scientific knowledge enabling lawmakers to develop regulations that better protect users.

 

Driver behavior: analysis of driving strategies and driver needs

  • Naturalistic studies: driving in natural conditions.
  • Field operational tests: systems testing on the open road.
  • On-track/simulator tests: controlled experimental conditions.In this way, the LAB meets three objectives:

 

In this way, the LAB meets three objectives:

  • Obtain knowledge of actual road hazards: observing behaviors, accidents and injuries.
  • Adapt counter measures: understanding circumstances, failures and mechanisms.
  • Innovate for future mobility: anticipating new uses, new challenges and new risks.

LAB’s history in a few key dates

1969    Creation of the Laboratory of Physiology and Biomechanics (LPB) in La Garenne-Colombes (northwest Paris suburb), with Claude Tarrière at its head.

1973    Start of work in biomechanics, including the use of dummies, and accident reconstruction.

1982    Development of the second-generation APROD (Association Peugeot Renault Omnidirectional Dummy).

1983    First LPB test campaign with child seats.

1984    Appearance of the first digital PRAKIMOD (Peugeot Renault Accident Klnematics MODel).

1991    Change of name from LPB to LAB, Laboratory of Accident Analysis and Biomechanics, headed by Jean-Yves le Coz.

1996    Implementation of a joint European database as part of the European Accident Causation Survey (EACS).

2000    Publication of the results of the study on the emergency brake assist system à 15% reduction in fatal accidents.

2007    Participation in the Global Human Body Models Consortium (GHBMC) project, which brings together automakers and equipment suppliers to create a series of “standard” human models of all sizes, with numerous control points (injuries to bones, soft tissues, etc.).

2009    Launch of the THORAX project to develop a new dummy thorax for frontal impact, pilot projects on pedestrian accident analysis with the French road safety foundation (FSR) and CACIAUP project to improve knowledge about accidents involving a motorist and a pedestrian.

2012    Participation in the first large-scale study on driving in real conditions, the European UDRIVE project.

2018    Far-side project, to propose an amendment to the Euro-NCAP protocol.

Automotive Technology in support of Road Safety

Speed cameras and lower speed limits are not the only reasons for the dramatic reduction in road fatalities recorded in France since 1973.

Technical progress by automakers has played a major role in the drop in deaths, thanks to the introduction of particularly effective new technologies.

Today,

  • The risk of being killed by car has been reduced fivefold.
  • The risk of serious to fatal injuries has fallen by 41% for drivers and 15% for front-seat passengers.
  • Accident severity can be 30% lower in a vehicle made in 2018 than in a vehicle designed 20 years ago.

Passive safety: reducing accident severity

In 1973, seatbelts became mandatory for people in the front seats, and were made compulsory for passengers in the back seats in 1990. They have been improved over the years with belt-locking systems and pretensioners, whose main function was to limit the movement of belted passengers at the beginning of deceleration.

Lastly, to reduce possible injuries caused by the belt itself load limiters were developed to reduce the stress exerted on the chest in the event of a collision. Its action is then completed by the air bag which distributes better the efforts on the whole of the rib cage.

  • Effectiveness of pretensioners: 47% reduction of injuries to the abdomen
  • Effectiveness of load limiters: 41% reduction in thoracic injuries
  • In 2017, 21% of people injured or killed were not wearing their seatbelt

 

 

In 1979, the airbag made its appearance in Europe. Initially reserved for the driver, it was subsequently extended to passengers. New cars sold in Europe today have between two and nine airbags, depending on the car’s level of quality.

  • Frontal airbag effectiveness: 60% reduction of moderate injuries (and an end to facial fractures) and 80%-90% reduction in serious to fatal head injuries.

Active safety: avoiding or mitigating the impact of an accident

In recent years, automakers have focused their efforts on the partial or total avoidance of accidents through the development of increasingly sophisticated driver assistance systems.

First wave, starting in 1978

In 1978, Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) were first fitted on high-end cars, before being extended to other classes of vehicle and becoming mandatory from 2004.

In 1995, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems made their appearance, becoming mandatory in November 2014.

In 1996, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) shortened braking distances, helping prevent accidents or reduce their severity.

  • In France, 18% of bodily accidents result from loss of control of the vehicle.
  • According to recent studies, the mandatory fitting of ESC + EBA systems would reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 70%.

 

Second wave, currently being rolled out on all Groupe PSA and Groupe Renault vehicles

Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) can automatically apply the brakes when their sensors detect an obstacle. They are currently being rolled out on all Groupe PSA and Groupe Renault vehicles.

  • The LAB’s results show that if all vehicles on the road in France were fitted with AEBS, the number of roads deaths and serious injuries would fall by 10% and 15% respectively.

 

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) helps the driver keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to the traffic.

Lane Keeping Alert and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) warns the driver and corrects the path if the vehicle is about to cross the line without indicating, one of the major causes of highway accidents.

Driver attention alert by camera Detects driver drowsiness and inattention.

“The LAB’s greatest strength is that it is part of both the present and the future, anticipating all possible avenues of progress, with the aim of constantly improving road safety for all users and all forms of mobility.”

 

Stéphane Buffat, Director of the LAB – Laboratory of Accident Analysis, Biomechanics and Human Behavior