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Effective measures to improve driver safety
  1. G Lippi,
  2. G C Guidi
  1. Ist Chimica e Microscopia Clinica, Università di Verona, Verona, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Lippi
 Ist Chimica e Microscopia Clinica, Università di Verona, Dip Scienze Morfologico-Biomediche, Verona 31734, Italy; ulippitin.it

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In a recent article in this journal by Leonard and colleagues,1 it was concluded that changing the configuration of motor racing circuits by introducing chicanes may significantly decrease the risk of severe injury to drivers. We believe that this evidence is reliable up to a certain point. There are several other measures that could be implemented to improve the overall safety of drivers; making circuits slower is not necessarily the only or the best strategy. From a spectator point of view, the introduction of numerous slow chicanes over the past decade, disrupting the original configuration of some legendary circuits such as Hockenheim, Imola, and Monza, has contributed to making motor racing less spectacular. From a scientific perspective, driver safety may be improved by the adoption of alternative measures that will not substantially affect the attractiveness of motor racing. Some of these are much more readily and economically applied, and may even turn out to be safer. The foremost of these measures is to increase the weight of the car and reduce engine power, which may encourage manufacturers to build more robust cockpits and slower competition vehicles.2 Next, we propose the obligatory use of efficient protective measures for the most commonly and severely traumatised body parts (head, limb, and legs), such as the recently designed HANS carbon fibre collar, thereby improving safety without affecting the spectacle.3 Finally, more efficient protective measures on circuits, such as replacing tyre barriers and metal rails with temporary crash protection barriers made of steel tubes and pads of hard foam, may absorb some of the crash energy, reducing the loading to both head and neck during dramatic decelerations up to 100 g.4 As technological advances in competition are usually translated to production vehicles, these strategies may also be effective in preventing or limiting the severity of injuries from road traffic accidents outside the racing circuits.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: none declared

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