Summary of the first international
“Safety of Vehicle – Safety of Passenger”
conference, held on 21/22 November 2017 in Krakow.

         During the “Safety of Vehicle – Safety of Passenger” conference, the representatives of the leading manufacturers of buses, trams and equipment, city carriers as well as those offering intercity and tourist transport services, carrier associations, vehicle inspection and certification companies, international experts and journalists discussed the issues related to the safety of those who travel by buses, trams and minibuses.
         During two days of extremely lively discussion, many issues that have a significant impact on the safety of travelers were raised. Several problems were pointed out which, in the participants’ assessment, require improvement, in particular in the area of vehicle construction and equipment, control systems, legal regulations, etc. Moreover, there were presentations made on new technical solutions, recently introduced or announced changes in regulations, results of tests and analyses, conclusions resulting from the inspections conducted, remarks and expectations of carriers and their associations, etc.
Topics, Speakers, Examples of issues discussed:
  1. MPK S.A. Kraków – Grzegorz Dyrkacz
    „Effective actions enhancing safety of passengers based on experiences of MPK Krakow”
    The presentation offered an overview of numerous activities, carried out by MPK (Municipal Transport Company) in Krakow, which have had a significant impact on the level of passenger safety. Many related to additional equipment for buses and trams, conditions to be met by new vehicles, actions and projects carried out, also in cooperation with other organizations, in particular with the Police and the Municipal Guards.
  2. Mobilis Sp. z o.o. – Przemysław Józwik
    „Influence of technical aspects on safety of people. Staff training and procedures and safety of travelers”
    The company Moblilis Sp. z o. o., which provides urban and long-distance transport services, presented three main groups of activities aimed at the improvement of passenger safety:
    – aspects related to the vehicle, e.g. inspection of braking systems, suspension, fire protection systems, door safety systems,
    – aspects related to internal and external controls, i.e. daily checks made by the driver and the workshop and those performed by specialized companies, e.g. the ones responsible for fire protection systems,
    – broadly understood maintenance, i.e. periodic replacement of parts, ongoing care for technical facilities and the use of approved parts and consumables.
    Attention was also drawn to the need of introducing, as a standard, additional bus equipment such as tire pressure sensors.
  3. WITD Katowice – Rafał Kasprzyk, WITD Bydgoszcz – Krzysztof Nowak
    „Level of vehicle safety in real roads environments”
    According to the Road Transport Inspectorate, whose main tasks involve vehicle roadworthiness inspections, driver working time checks and compliance control of road transport conditions, the most frequently identified irregularities relate to braking, steering, running systems and the condition of chassis. The key issue is the negligence associated with fixing the seats, efficiency of seat belt retractors and incorrect fixing of belt anchors. People are commonly unaware of the fact that installing seat belts to seats which have not been designed for such type of load may lead to breaking the fastenings in case of an accident.  In such a case, the passenger injuries are likely to be greater than those caused in the absence of seat belts fastened.
    The discussion focused on highlighting the lack of regulations concerning the transport of children in urban and long-distance transport. Additionally, attention was brought to the fact that frequently no measures are taken against those who permit the entry into service of vehicles which endanger the lives and health of road users due to their poor technical condition.
  4. TÜV Rheinland – Marek Nytko
    „Vehicle after a collision – drivable and useful. But is safe for all road users?”
    The assessment of the vehicle’s efficiency after motor damage is the responsibility of the vehicle inspection station. Unfortunately, negligence is frequent in the case of permitting the entry into service of vehicles in which damage to the supporting structure should preclude their further use. Various kinds of damage, such as indentations or damaged mounts of body parts, may cause serious injury or death at the next collision. Frequent cases were observed when only the exterior of the vehicle was repaired, without any work performed on the body supporting structure.
  5. Motor Transport Institute – Jerzy W. Kownacki
    „Expected new regulations related to bus construction and safety of passengers”
    The speaker discussed the principles of legislative enactment in the European Union countries. He also talked about the details of regulations recently introduced by the European Union and the UN Economic Commission as well as the changes and amendments thereof that have a significant impact on the safety of travelers. These included, among others, such issues as the necessity of traffic stability systems be installed in vehicles, regulations regarding safety exits, equipment for the disabled, durability of seats and their mountings, fire safety and electric vehicles.
  6. Solaris Bus & Coach – Ireneusz Pachliński
    „Electric buses and passengers safety”
    In this part, the Solaris company, whose offer includes several electric bus models, made a presentation of systems for electrical protection, signaling of possible errors in electrical system as well as the problems related to electric batteries, both in terms of fire extinguishing and the effects of chemical shock in case of strong impact. The tests conducted by Solaris revealed how difficult it is to ignite electric batteries and then to extinguishing them due to their anaerobic burning properties. Solaris not only analyses the possible risks on an ongoing basis but also introduces safety systems that exceed the current standards. It was established during the discussion that it is necessary to seek to implement a unified system of battery cell diagnostics and explore the possible effects of chemical shock.
  7. Division of Vehicle Safety Chalmers University of Technology – prof. Robert Thomson
    “Crash tests and their possible effects on passengers safety”
    During his speech, Professor Robert Thomson discussed different types of crash tests, including collisions with pedestrians and road barriers, rollovers, pendulum impact tests, which are of great importance for improving the safety of bus passengers and other road users. The tests for higher speeds and loads give rise to take action in terms of absorbing energy by the vehicle structure, improve the performance of seat belts or limit injuries caused by impacts with internal components and other passengers. The rollover test provides an opportunity to examine the rigidity of the vehicle structure, the effects of body deformation on passenger injuries, effectiveness of restraint systems and the observation of biomechanics. Testing the impact of pendulum when striking the driver’s compartment creates a field for research to improve the vehicle body’s behavior and reduce injuries to the driver and passengers in the event of a frontal impact.
    One of the important issues raised was the implementation of numerical simulations which are less expensive than the physical tests and therefore can counteract the industry resistance against the introduction of new, more stringent security criteria.
  8. Kabimec Consulting – prof. dr Janusz Kajzer 
    „Safety of pedestrians and cyclists in case of a bus collision”
    Commencing his deliberations on pedestrian safety, Prof. Janusz Kajzer drew attention to the number of pedestrian fatalities in accidents. For instance, in New Delhi in 1994, pedestrians accounted for 42% of fatalities in all accidents, and 33% of them were killed as a result of a bus accident, 22% died when hit by a truck and only 12% of pedestrian died after being hit by a passenger car. In France and Great Britain, pedestrians and car users are the largest group of fatalities resulting from accidents that involve buses. In addition to changes in infrastructure, pedestrian detection systems, similar to those used in the newest cars, could be very useful. Prof. Kajzer presented a whole range of factors and recommendations that may affect the security of the so-called unprotected road users.
  9. Solaris Tram – Paweł Gąsior  
    „Aspects of safety in process of railway vehicles designing and certificating”
    A representative of Solaris Tram presented the process of placing a rail vehicle on the market, according to the “V” model used by the company, starting from the Concept through Analysis, Design and Acceptance to its Maintenance and Modification. Safety, which is an inseparable aspect in this process, is based on three pillars: customer requirements, product standards and risk analysis.

Discussion panel – Day I

A large portion of the discussion was devoted to safety issues concerning the transport of children, which are insufficiently regulated in many countries. Very often the only rule in force is the requirement of marking a bus with a plate showing that the vehicle is used for carrying children. Attention was also drawn to the general problem of restraint systems that are not designed for children but for adults only. What is more, seat belts are often hidden under the seats, many of them are non-functional or the passengers simply fail to fasten them. However, it is worth using them because according to research, fastening the hip belt itself reduces the effects of the accident by 70%.
The hope for the improvement of children safety are new bus seats which can be instantly modified from a bus seat for adults into a child seat. Such innovative ideas, however, will not be implemented on a large scale until new regulations on the improvement of children transport safety are enacted.

  1. Kabimec Consulting – prof. dr Janusz Kajzer  
    „Safety of traveling children and disabled people”
    Improving the safety of the youngest ones should start with the development of research instruments. The problem is the rate at which the proportions and size of human body change from birth to adulthood. Head is from 1/4 of a total body size in a newborn to about 1/7 at the age of 15. Stiffness of the skull changes with age and reaches its maximum at the age of 20. In other parts of children body, such as neck and chest, the muscles and bones are not so well-developed as in adults. The tolerance of neck loads for the bending moment in flexion for a 3-year-old child is 30 Nm, while in adults it is 190 Nm.
    If we look at the provisions on children safety, it can be noticed that the provisions regarding the installation of restraint systems apply to passenger cars only.
    An important issue is also the transport of children in strollers and prams on city buses. The seat belts used for this purpose can carry only small forces from the frontal impact.
  2. Division of Vehicle Safety Chalmers University of Technology – prof. Robert Thomson
     “Trends in active and passive safety”
    The current trends in pedestrian safety are positive. The mortality of car users in road accidents is declining. Less than 1% of European fatalities are bus occupants. The development of increasingly advanced seat belts, airbag systems and greater understanding of human body biomechanics has facilitated the improvement in safety of car users and can be easily effected in buses and minibuses.
    Another new feature in terms of safety are active systems informing the driver about hazards and those that independently avoid threats. Sensors can assess the situation around the vehicle and display a message for the driver or take action, e.g. braking. The systems that use sensors and cameras can be very useful in buses where the field of view is very limited and and it is easy to hit a pedestrian.
  3. Vision Consulting Automotive – Petr Pavlata
    “Simulation of a bus passenger behaviour during a bus accident using Virthuman model”
    A representative of Vision Consulting Automotive presented simulations of the bus accident that took place in 2016 in Bratislava, using a numerical model of a man named Virthuman. The bus hit the roadside pole which resulted in 16 people injured, 8 of whom were transported to hospital with serious bone fractures and head injuries. The calculations made with the use of the Virthuman model made it possible to generate 750 curves describing forces, torques, accelerations and many other data regarding each human organ or bone separately. This data is automatically compared with the injury criteria and assigned to the following categories: good, acceptable, marginal and weak. The modelling of the bus and the Virthuman model can be successfully used to improve the bus design in terms of driver and passenger safety.
  4. Solaris Bus & Coach – Ireneusz Pachliński
    „ Bezpieczeństwo i systemy przeciwpożarowe w autobusach“
    „Safety and fire protection systems at buses“
    According to Solaris, the main fire zones on buses are pneumatic, electric, fuel and oil systems. In the pneumatic system, the most fire-prone components include air compression systems, oil separators or air dryers. In the electrical system, starter, ignition, alternator and motor grounding system are the ones more susceptible to fire. In the oil system, hydraulic system is the one which easy to catch fire, while in the fuel system the greatest risk is observed in fuel lines and engine compartment.
    Solaris buses are equipped with a various fire protection systems which consist of a cable – a heat sensor (detection line), a control unit, a tank with an extinguishing agent, a high pressure hose and nozzles as well as an alarm signaling system. In electric vehicles, liquid-based extinguishing systems (for low voltage areas) and powder and gas systems (for high voltage parts) are used . During the discussion, attention was drawn to the lack of provisions regarding battery-related crash tests.
  5. Systemy Autobusowe (Bus Systems) – Rafał Misztalski
    „Extinguishing systems and alcolocks – absolute condition of safety in the public transport”
    There are two main types of bus extinguishing systems: water-based and powder-based. Water-based systems cannot be used on hybrid, electric and gas buses. Powder-based systems are more universal and can be used on all types of buses, i.e. hybrid, electric, gas buses as well as those with combustion engine. In case of lithium-ion batteries, the greatest problem is flammable hydrogen generated during combustion. Even a small amount of water can lead to its production and explosion, short-circuit in the system and electric shock, ignition of air conditioning agent and formation of toxic hydrofluoric acid.
    The basic task of alcohol locks is to force the driver to undergo a sobriety test before starting the engine. If the test results are negative, the vehicle start will be blocked. It is possible to configure the frequency of tests, create reports and set up messages in any language. Alcohol locks should be installed in vehicles carrying dangerous substances – ADR, rail vehicles, school buses and public transport vehicles.
  6. Knorr-Bremse – Rafał Olszewski
    „Safety, technology, innovation – Knorr-Bremse solutions for railway vehicles”
    The most important system in rail vehicles in terms of safety is undoubtedly the braking system. In order to expand the knowledge of braking systems and improve them, the Knorr-Bremse company has created the Advanced Test Laboratory For Adhesion Based Systems (ATLAS), which makes it possible to perform:
    – wheel-rail friction tests for dynamic adhesion model,
    – brake system tests,
    – component tests (e.g. bogie, caliper) for wear,
    – optimizing the amount and direction of sanding and the impact on adhesion
    The system can also be used to measure noise levels and temperature, perform material analyses and many other tests in the field of rail vehicle braking systems. During the discussion, attention was brought to very strict braking standards which cannot be met by the manufacturers without sanding system.

Discussion panel – Day II


The beginning of discussion was devoted to fire safety. It has been pointed out that fire services in some countries are not trained to extinguish the fires in the vehicles of new types, such as electric or hybrid buses. The problem is the identification of vehicle types and information on the extinguishing method, which can lead to the escalation of fires instead of extinguishing them.

With regard to collisions and their consequences, it was pointed out that many safety issues have been solved in passenger cars and they can also be easily implemented in buses, minibuses and trams. The path to development is for example the analysis of other accidents and the implementation of conclusions drawn therefrom. In order to counteract the voices marginalising the safety of bus and tram passengers, it should be emphasized that the number of people injured in public transport accidents is very high. Security should not be based on the statistics regarding fatalities only.


The conference was highly appreciated by the participants. The aspects that were valued most included the subject matter, individual speeches and proper balance between theory and practice. It was agreed that the conference can be the beginning of regular meetings and discussions of vehicle users and vehicle manufacturers, specialists and experts as well as many other people involved in security matters, and thus make a significant contribution to providing better protection to those who travel by buses, minibuses, trams and other road users.

The report from the conference and conclusions drawn from the discussions will be forwarded to the European Commission and to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.