David Ward gives 2012 Bertil Aldman Award Lecture in Dublin 

Professor Jeff Crandall presents the 2012 Bertil Aldman Award to David Ward
FIA Foundation Director General David Ward delivers the 2012 Bertil Aldman Award Lecture

The Director General of the FIA Foundation, David Ward, has delivered the 2012 Bertil Aldman Award Lecture at the annual meeting of the International Research Council on the Biomechanics of Injury (IRCOBI) held in September at Trinity College, Dublin.

The lecture, ‘From Research to Global Policy and Action’, explained the powerful contribution of vehicle regulation and consumer information to road fatality reduction.  Highlighting the importance of the United Nation’s launch in 2011 of a decade of a for road safety, David Ward said “this is very timely, because at the moment humanity is conducting an unprecedented experiment with the automobile. It took one hundred years for the vehicle fleet to reach 1 billion and we are now trying to double that in ten years. The challenge for the Decade of Action is to try to minimise the negative safety consequences of this explosive increase in automobiles.”

David Ward stressed that there is “a significant urgency to improving vehicle safety now. Last year 60 million new passenger vehicles were built worldwide; a record number despite the problems in the global economy. However, as many as 20 million of these new cars are unlikely to meet the UN’s minimum crash test standards.” He warned that “this short sighted ‘business as usual’ approach has a significant opportunity cost. Each car failing to meet these safety requirements may remain on the road with successive owners for perhaps another twenty or even thirty years. And each of these cars will unnecessarily expose their occupants to an extended period of high risk of serious injury in a crash. This would be avoided if all UN Member States take the opportunity of the Decade of Action to legislate now for safer cars”.

Alongside regulation David Ward also argued that New Car Assessment Programmes “have proved highly effective in raising the awareness of consumers of the choices they face when buying a new car. Now NCAPs are being launched in the rapidly motorising regions and there is every reason to expect that they will be similarly successful in creating a ‘market for safety’ as they have been in the industrialised countries”.

Taking Malaysia as an example of a country responding positively to the Decade of Action, David Ward welcomed the country’s recent steps to adopt the UN’s frontal impact crash standard, develop a test laboratory, and support the creation of the ASEAN NCAP.   “Malaysia is showing us all how to transform the text of UN resolutions into real measures of injury prevention; a clear case of words into action” he said.

At the conclusion of the lecture David Ward was presented with the 2012 Bertil Aldman Award by IRCOBI’s President Professor Jeff R. Crandall, the Director of the Centre of Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia.

Professor Bertil Aldman (1925-1998) of Chalmers University in Gothenburg invented the rear facing child restraint and made major contributions to the development of seat belt systems and vehicle occupant protection. In 1973, together with Professor Murray Mackay of Birmingham University, Professor Aldman created IRCOBI which is the world’s premier forum for researchers in the field of injury biomechanics.

For more information about IRCOBI see: http://www.ircobi.org/

Click here to download the lecture (212kb .pdf) >