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Published on Aug 07, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Increase in Pedestrian Deaths Results in Push for New Safety Standards

pedestrian fatalities

After a five-year decline, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise again. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 4,300 pedestrians died after being hit by a car in 2010, a four percent increase from 2009.

This upward trend has put pressure on government regulators and safety officials to address the growing safety concerns of walkers and joggers, especially those in urbanized areas where 75 percent of the pedestrian deaths occurred.

In response, the NHTSA will soon hold a meeting to propose changes to the design of hoods and bumpers so that they are weaker and able to absorb more of the impact when cars collide with people. Honda has already designed collapsible hood hinges and breakaway windshield wiper pivots to help prevent pedestrian head injuries. Current U.S. law requires strong vehicle bumpers to reduce repair costs in low-speed crashes.

Some automakers say that instead of vehicle design changes, they prefer to focus on crash-avoidance technologies. The following manufacturers have taken steps on their own to reduce pedestrian crashes:

  • Toyota's 2013 Lexus LS models can automatically come to a full stop when going less than 24 miles per hour if cars or pedestrians are too close.
  • Since almost 70 percent of pedestrian deaths occur at night, BMW has created a "Night Vision" system. It sounds and shows a warning if sensors detect a person in the car's path after dark. BMW is also pursuing automatic breaking technology to stop a vehicle before it hits a pedestrian.
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"Pedestrian deaths hasten safety push." USA Today. August 6, 2012.
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