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The role of farm trac­tors in traf­fic acci­dents

More than 10 years ago, the German Insurers Accident Research (Unfallforschung der Versicherer / UDV) assessed the accident risk posed by farm tractors in road traffic and identified typical patterns. Initial assessments of the figures currently reported in the German traffic accident statistics and the insurers’ accident database (UDB) have shown that the occurrence of accidents involving farm tractors has changed during the intervening period.

Accidents involving farm tractors, also known as motorized agricultural vehicles (MAV), are relatively rare, but they result in a disproportionately high number of serious and fatal injuries. Therefore, it is even more interesting to consider the accident, injury and fatality rates in relation to the vehicle population and the annual mileage in order to derive the accident risk for MAV or, more precisely, accidents involving MAV. In general, motorcyclists are considered to exhibit the highest fatality rate in German road traffic. However, the numbers presented here show that much more attention needs to be paid to accidents involving MAV because the risk of dying as a result of an accident involving a farm tractor is considerably higher still. While the fatality rate in accidents involving two-wheel motor vehicles is approximately 19 times higher than for accidents involving cars, the fatality rate in accidents involving MAV exceeds that of accidents involving cars by as much as a factor of 56.

Working together with the insurers Allianz Versicherungs-AG and Landwirtschaftlicher Versicherungsverein Münster a.G. (LVM), claims received by these two insurers were gathered together in a joint accident database, analysed, and summarised in a research report. Almost two-thirds of the accidents occur outside built-up areas, and a good third of the accident locations are in built-up areas. In general, it can be stated that the accident blackspots are when turning off, turning/crossing and accidents in longitudinal traffic.

The most frequent accident opponent in MAV accidents is the passenger car with 65%, followed by two-wheel motor vehicles with 20% and cyclists with 9%. Depending on the other party involved in the accident, clear patterns emerge in the types of accidents and thus in the sequence of accidents.

Advanced driver assistance systems that can be implemented in the short term alone, such as a front-mounted camera system and a reversing camera, already address 20% of accidents and 19% of fatalities and serious injuries. Technologies that can be implemented in the medium term, such as the lane change assistance system, which warns of vehicles in the blind spot or when turning, and the emergency brake assistant, additionally address a considerable number of MAV accidents. A transfer of driver assistance systems already established in other vehicle classes to farm tractors can therefore be introduced into the discussion as a potentially effective measure. In this context, the delayed effectiveness due to the slow penetration of the measures into the vehicle fleet must be taken into account.

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