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What are Vulnerable Road Users (VRU)?

Published
January 17, 2024
An elderly person crossing a street

Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) is an umbrella term used to refer to a section of road users who are more susceptible to accidents and injuries on the road than the average road user. This category includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and others. With a transportation landscape that is increasingly complex and elaborate, implementing effective road safety means that measures have to be implemented in order to adequately protect VRUs.

Attributes of Vulnerable Road Users

VRUs are generally those who lack the protection of a vehicle or motorcycle, or are otherwise disadvantaged by a disability that make them susceptible to road injuries. Traffic and unfavorable weather conditions must be navigated carefully with a combination of their own skills and senses.

When sharing road space with cars, trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists face unique challenges - they are more exposed to hazardous conditions, negligence by drivers, inadequate infrastructural support, and potential collisions. In a study conducted on road traffic fatalities by the Statistisches Bundesamt over a period of four years (2018-2021), it was found that bicyclists and pedestrians face the highest risk of injury on German roads, ranking second and third after passenger car injuries.

How to make Roads Safer for Vulnerable Road Users

The structural implementation of road safety for VRUs is an exercise requiring the involvement of the government, stakeholders, transportation agencies and planners, and road users. Here are some key strategies to consider during:

  • Development of Infrastructure - To develop road infrastructure in a way that enhances safety is very important. Some ways in which to do this is by designing cyclist and pedestrian only lanes, clearly marked signage, speed bumps, and properly maintained pavements or sidewalks. The same applies to traffic measures that have a direct correlation with infrastructure such as roundabouts and pedestrian crossings. These help with keeping speeds in check.
  • Tech-based Improvements - This point deals with the incorporation of smart tech into daily traffic proceedings such as video analytics tools, thermal imaging cameras, sensors, and alarm systems. These can greatly boost the process of accident prevention, by identifying potential threats to safety ahead of time and alerting traffic personnel so that speedy action can be taken.
  • Raising Awareness - One of the most important things to do when ensuring that roads be safer for vulnerable road users is by educating all road users of individual measures that can be taken to make a difference. These measures include vigilant driving, exercising caution at all times, responsible sharing of the road, and yielding to pedestrians and cyclists. Aside from these behaviors, some other awareness measures can be taken such as donning reflective gear and making use of designated paths.
Reflective clothing is easier to spot
Reflective clothing is easier to spot at night and in general, and can help protect pedestrians and cyclist from potential traffic injuries
  • Law Enforcement: Last but not the least, VRUs can be catered to through legislative measures targeted to address their needs and requirements. Establishing clear repercussion guidelines regarding liabilities in accidents involving VRUs, putting into effect heavier penalties for causing injury or damage - these are some ways in which the law can be used to improve road safety.

Further Reference:

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