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AAA study exposes pedestrian risks

Navigating a sea of vehicles when on foot presents challenges to pedestrians in even the most ideal of conditions such as in broad daylight, clearly marked crosswalks and slow vehicle speed limits.

Many new vehicles today come equipped with technology systems designed to detect other vehicles or pedestrians and to automatically bring a vehicle to a stop prior to colliding with those objects or people. Unfortunately, one AAA study found that these systems have a long way to go before they truly protect pedestrians.

Technology fails more than succeeds

The Verge reported on the results of the study that used both adult and child pedestrian dummies and vehicles on a closed test course. Vehicles operating at 20 miles per hour in the daytime featured pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems. The vehicles hit the adult pedestrian dummies in 60% of the test scenarios. Smaller child-sized dummies were hit by the vehicles in almost 90% of test scenarios.

Tests conducted in dark hours yielded even less success, resulting in AAA declaring the technology safety systems totally ineffective according to Consumer Reports. This is particularly troubling as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that three out of every four pedestrian deaths occur during dark hours.

Large vehicles pose big dangers

As pedestrian fatalities across the nation rise at alarming rates, experts look for reasons and ways to reverse the trend. The prevalence of large vehicles like sport utility vehicles may well contribute to the problem. When hit by tall vehicles, a pedestrian’s primary impact may occur in the head or vital organs in the torso instead of in the legs and hips.