The term “VRU” covers anyone who is on or alongside a roadway without the protective shell of a vehicle enclosing them. VRUs include, but aren’t limited to, cyclists, pedestrians, persons in wheelchairs, police, other first responders, roadway workers, skateboarders and scooter riders. The National Safety Council (NSC) also considers motorcyclists as VRUs, given their lack of vehicle enclosure and higher risk of injury in a collision.
VRU may be a new term, but the need to define it results from a marked increase of fatalities in that category. “Vulnerable road user fatalities have been increasing in the U.S. at an alarming rate,” according to an NSC policy paper. “In 2016, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities, a 9% increase from 2015, accounting for 16% of all traffic fatalities. Motorcyclist fatalities exhibit a similar trend, with 5,286 motorcyclist fatalities in 2016, a 5% increase from 2015. Bicyclist fatalities exhibit these increases as well with 840 bicyclist fatalities in 2016, a 1% increase from 2015.”
If the U.S. were to eliminate crashes involving vehicles and VRUs, over 11,000 lives could be saved each year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.