Over the last decade or so, the United States has experienced an increase in pedestrian deaths. A report by The Verge indicates that 2018 was the deadliest year on record for foot traffic across the country in almost three decades according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association. This reality makes the growing adoption of vehicle technologies designed to detect and avoid pedestrians highly important.
Factors influencing pedestrian fatalities
In the last two decades, more people have continued to purchase taller vehicles like SUVs than smaller passenger sedans. When these taller vehicles hit a pedestrian, the impact can more frequently be in a part of the body with vital organs such as the heart and lungs versus in the legs or hips. Another problem pedestrians face when hit by a larger vehicle is that instead of falling onto the hood of a car, they may end up underneath a vehicle.
Advanced safety features have room for improvement
Consumer Reports provided an overview on one study conducted by AAA that took a look at various 2019 model vehicles equipped with automatic braking and pedestrian detection systems. The best results were achieved in daylight hours, with test vehicles running at 20 miles per hour, and adult pedestrian dummies in a crosswalk. In these situations, pedestrians were hit six out of 10 times.
Tests conducted in nighttime conditions resulted in AAA rating the safety systems as totally ineffective. Other test scenarios involved child-sized dummies that came out from between other vehicles into the test vehicle path. The dummies were hit every time when test vehicles traveled at 30 miles per hour.