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AAA Study: Car Technology for Pedestrian Detection Still Needs Work

Pedestrian deaths have sharply increased over the past decade – in fact, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates a 35% increase from 2008-2018. In 2009, the U.S. saw 4,109 pedestrian fatalities, and that number jumped to 6,000 in 2017. These facts surprise many, given the increase in technology and safety features within motor vehicles. Many new model cars come equipped with the latest in safety technology like automatic emergency braking (AEB), object detection sensors, blind spot warnings, and adaptive lighting.  A new AAA study shows this new technology still has a ways to go.

While the new technology does help reduce overall accidents, the question is whether they are as effective when it comes to avoiding crashes with pedestrians. For example, a car that has AEB with pedestrian detection should spot a pedestrian, issue an alarm to the driver, then brake or slow down if the driver does not react quickly enough. AAA recently conducted testing with four 2019 model cars – Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Tesla Model 3 – and crash dummies mimicking humans. AAA sought to test the effectiveness of the pedestrian detection systems.

The testing revealed some interesting findings:

  • If one pedestrian crossed the road in daylight and the car was going 20 mph, a crash was avoided 40% of the time
  • If two pedestrians were crossing the road and the car was going 20 mph, a crash was avoided just 20% of the time
  • If a child walked into traffic between two vehicles going 20 mph, a crash occurred 89% of the time
  • If a child walked into traffic between two vehicles going 30 mph, a crash occurred 100% of the time
  • The technology “proved ineffective” for pedestrians crossing at night

The study suggests there is room for improvement for the dark hours. Per the NHTSA, 75% of pedestrian deaths happen after dark. The AAA testing tried to simulate circumstances drivers commonly come across – a poorly lit area and pedestrian wearing dark clothing. The technology, like some drivers, had a hard time detecting the pedestrian dummies when it was dark outside. Speed is another factor in car accidents involving pedestrians. A pedestrian has a 10% risk of suffering a serious injury if the driver is going 17 mph. If speed increases to 48 mph, the risk of suffering a serious injury increases to 90%.

As the AAA study shows, pedestrians are still at risk of being hit even if the other driver is operating a new model vehicle equipped with the latest safety bells and whistles. Even if a car has pedestrian detection, the driver still has a legal duty to pay attention to the road and his surroundings. This duty of due care is imposed on anyone operating a motor vehicle. If the driver hits you by deviating from the standard of due care, such as speeding, texting while driving, or making an improper turn, his insurance company can be responsible for paying damages like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle repairs. In legal terms, breaching the standard of care is called negligence or recklessness, depending on the facts.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a pedestrian or auto accident, contact Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz for a free consultation at 800-529-4004 or through our confidential online form. We specialize in personal injury cases and helping our clients recover fair compensation for what they’ve been through. Just because you were a pedestrian does not automatically make you at fault for the accident. We work hard to conduct a thorough investigation and identify all relevant evidence, including witness statements and searching for video footage. Our firm serves the legal needs of those injured throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky. Let us show you why NST is the way to go.