In what seems like a losing battle, automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems are reducing the number of pedestrian crashes, but only during daylight hours or on well-lit roads. These systems are struggling to help drivers avoid hitting pedestrians when it is dark out.
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), these systems have helped to cut pedestrian crashes by 27 percent compared to vehicles that do not have these systems installed. At the same time, crash rates for injuries were 30 percent lower in vehicles with these systems installed compared to vehicles without the system.
When the IIHS research team examined crash rates for poorly lit roads or accidents occurring at night, there were no discernable differences between vehicles with the pedestrian detection system or those without the pedestrian detection system.
“This is the first real-world study of pedestrian AEB to cover a broad range of manufacturers, and it proves the technology is eliminating crashes,” Jessica Cicchino, the IIHS vice president of research and the study’s author, said. “Unfortunately, it also shows these systems are much less effective at night, when three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes happen.”
The IIHS is working to develop a nighttime test for the pedestrian detection system to determine its effectiveness in preventing car accidents involving pedestrians.
“The daylight test has helped drive the adoption of this technology,” says David Aylor, manager of active safety testing at IIHS. “But the goal of our ratings is always to address as many real-world injuries and fatalities as possible — and that means we need to test these systems at night.”
IIHS introduces ratings for pedestrian detection
Even though not every new vehicle on the market today comes equipped with pedestrian detection systems, the IIHS has made it more enticing for automakers to include such a system. The IIHS introduced ratings for pedestrian detection in the hopes that these systems would be included in more vehicles. The ratings were introduced in 2019, and the IIHS required advanced or superior rating in order for vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention in order for their TOP SAFETY PICK and TOP SAFETY PICK+ to be awarded to a vehicle.
At the time of the rating announcement, pedestrian detection systems were only available on three out of five vehicles that the IIHS reviewed. Of the vehicles reviewed by the IIHS, only one out of five received the superior rating, which is the highest attainable. As of 2021, pedestrian detection systems are now available on nine out of 10 models on the market, with close to half of the vehicles earning the superior rating.
How do pedestrian detection systems work?
Pedestrian detection systems are supposed to warn drivers when they are too close to a pedestrian and running the risk of hitting them. The system is then supposed to apply the brakes automatically to mitigate or avoid a crash with the pedestrian, if necessary. The system does not completely take over the operation of the vehicle from the driver. It only helps avoid the crash or mitigate the impact of the crash should it still happen.
Pedestrian crash statistics
Pedestrian deaths have increased by 51 percent since 2009 and there were 6,205 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents across the country in 2019. These deaths accounted for almost one-fifth of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 76,000 pedestrians suffered non-fatal injuries in crashes in 2019.
Injuries caused by pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents in Memphis
Pedestrians injured in accidents with motor vehicles run the risk of suffering serious injuries that can be life-threatening. The most common injuries include the following:
- Broken bones: Pedestrians often suffer broken hands, wrists, arms, legs, and shoulders when hit by vehicles in an accident. These breaks could be minor to the point where the pedestrian needs a cast to heal. They could also wind up being serious enough to have the bone poke through the skin and require surgery to fix the fracture.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Pedestrian accident victims can also suffer TBI ranging from minor concussions to an injury as serious as a brain bleed. A TBI can change your life in an instant, requiring extensive therapy and home-based care for the rest of your life. Signs of a TBI include loss of consciousness, headaches, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, difficulty speaking, sleep problems, dizziness, loss of coordination, sensitivity to light or sound, mood swings, depression, anxiety, problems concentrating, and clear fluid leaking from the ear.
- Damage to soft tissues: Soft tissue injuries often require less recovery time than broken bones and TBIs, but often leave scars and cause chronic pain. Soft tissue injuries include contusions, lacerations, strains, sprains, dislocations and tears.
- Spinal cord injuries: Pedestrians who are hit by motor vehicles can wind up suffering spinal cord injuries that leave them paralyzed or in need of extensive physical therapy.
Common pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents
There are three common types of pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents.
- Accidents in parking lots: It can be challenging for drivers to see pedestrians in parking lots, especially when vehicles are parked illegally in a fire lane near a crosswalk. Pedestrians should not jump out from in between parked vehicles and should only cross a parking lot using a crosswalk when headed to and from a store.
- Crosswalk accidents: The majority of pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle in a crosswalk are hit by vehicles making a left turn, by distracted drivers, or at night by drivers who never saw them.
- Hit-and-run accidents: Pedestrians are susceptible to being involved in hit-and-run crashes since drivers know they cannot be chased down easily, as the pedestrian is not in a motor vehicle.
Were you or a loved one injured in a car accident as a pedestrian? Call the Memphis pedestrian accident attorneys at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, at 901-475-7434 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today at our Memphis or Jackson offices.
Since graduating magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Memphis School of Law, Thomas has helped make a difference in the lives of victims of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and professional negligence. Thomas has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Among other victories in the courtroom, Thomas obtained several impressive jury verdicts and settlements
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