Brian Joss –
Continental has adopted an innovative and comprehensive approach to automotive safety with the aim of reducing and ultimately eliminating vehicle accidents, injuries and fatalities.
Dubbed ‘Vision Zero’, the pioneering initiative is driven by the Continental Group, one of the world’s largest tyre and automotive safety systems manufacturers.
“We see ‘Vision Zero’ as comprising three successive stages. Of paramount importance is the avoidance of any traffic fatalities; then reducing the number of injuries to zero. Once there are no more accidents at all, we have fulfilled our ‘Vision Zero’,” says Frank Jourdan, member of the executive board of Continental AG and president of the chassis and safety division.
“Since seatbelts, ESC, tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and AEBS for commercial vehicles became mandatory in Europe, the total number of road traffic fatalities, injuries and accidents has declined significantly. That said, the annual toll of more than 1.2 million people killed on the world’s roads every year is still shockingly high and not acceptable. We must make a concerted effort to reduce these numbers,” Jourdan adds.
“Continental’s aim is to make Vision Zero a reality for every driver,” adds Niel Langner, marketing manager for Continental Tyre South Africa.
“The company has a well-earned and respected reputation for producing tyres with industry-best braking performance. By integrating this with Continental’s cutting-edge advanced driver assistance systems and car-to-car communications technologies, we believe that an accident-free future is attainable.”
Continental is constantly developing and testing new materials and technologies on the tyre front, and bringing products to market with the highest levels of safety performance, particularly in braking, where it is already the class-leader.
“Vehicle safety is a complex interplay between different factors, including human, technological and environmental aspects,” Langner says. “Continental takes all of these elements into consideration when developing new safety technologies.”
ContiGuard is one of Continental’s key safety concepts set to play a major role in the realisation of accident-free driving. It integrates all of the car’s active safety systems (such as ABS, ESP, Blind Spot Detection System, and head-up display) and passive safety features (active emergency seatbelt control, airbags) with vehicular and surrounding sensors that provide ongoing and coordinated interaction related to traffic and the movement of other vehicles.
“The networking of multiple advanced driver assistance systems will pave the way for the evolutionary path towards automated driving, a core technology that Continental has been developing under the ContiGuard banner,” Langner explains.
Vision Zero provides insight into a future without collisions and resulting injuries or deaths. However the process cannot be achieved by the Continental Group alone.
Along with the Vision Zero initiative, Continental is partnering with the Global NCAP ‘Stop The Crash’ information campaign, an initiative of Global NCAP, the London, UK-based umbrella body of the worldwide NCAP consumer organisations for new-car safety testing.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Continental in this new initiative to promote crash avoidance systems and tyre safety,” stated David Ward, General Secretary of Global NCAP.
Throughout the Stop The Crash campaign, Global NCAP and its partners, including Continental, will be conducting driving demonstrations to raise awareness of the benefits of safety technologies already in volume production, and to encourage their adoption in subcompact and compact models too.
In terms of vehicle technology, the focus will be on ESC, AEBS, and Motorcycle ABS, while on the tyre side, the importance of adequate tyre pressure and tread depth will be highlighted.
“Tyres are the sole point of contact between the vehicle and the road. All forces transmitted to the road are put down via a footprint no bigger than the size of a postcard. In a critical situation, it is the tyre that determines whether the vehicle can stop in time, or whether it stays safely on course through a corner,” says Nikolai Setzer, Member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and President of the Tyre Division.
“This is why we want to inform as many drivers as possible, all over the world, about the safety benefits of using high-tech tyres inflated to the correct pressure and with adequate tread depth.”
Overall, the main aim of both initiatives is to achieve a significant improvement in global road safety, together with further, steady reductions in the number of traffic fatalities, injuries, and accidents.