Grand Prix Safety Measures Has Done Little to Cut Drivers’ Death

by Venkatraman on Sep 27 2007 7:31 PM

Its been more than a decade since the tragic death of three time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna, who was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix. But, changes in technical regulations and drivers' safety have done little to prevent death rates in motor sports, a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has revealed.

Drivers continue to die or sustain serious injuries in competitions, such as Formula One and Moto GP, despite efforts by organizers to boost driver safety, including serial reductions in engine size, grooved tyres, and two-way radio frequency data transfer (telemetry), the study said.

Deaths in all types of motor racing have risen from 28 in 1979 to 37 in 2006, reaching as high as 45 in 2005, the researchers said, adding that while there has been fewer deaths in motorcycling, the rate of serious injury has continued to be high.

Lap times have also decreased steadily since 1995. The highest Formula One speed of just under 230 miles (370 km) an hour was recorded in 2004.

The authors suggest lowering of the cornering speed, making vehicles heavier and safer, strengthening barriers around the track to protect both drivers and spectators, and the use of protective clothing for drivers, to ensure better driver safety.

“Since driver safety comes ahead of spectacle and business, it is not acceptable that drivers continue to die and or be seriously injured. Drivers’ injuries are an unsustainable price to pay for the show,” the researchers said.