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Dismal results in AAA study of pedestrian detection tech


The numbers were atrocious a decade ago when about 4,000 pedestrians lost their lives when they were struck by motor vehicles. Since then, there has been a 50-percent surge in fatal pedestrian accidents, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says.

In 2017, a pedestrian was killed in a collision with a vehicle every 88 minutes. While many people hope that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) would lead to reductions in pedestrian accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injuries, research from AAA indicates that even drivers with those technological aides are still striking people on foot.

The AAA research says pedestrian crashes are at an average of 30 mph and happen more often than not at night.

Forbes reports that though the current tech doesn’t appear to be solving the problem, more advanced technology is on the way, along with public policy innovations that promise to cut speeds and ease traffic congestion.

AAA’s research involved testing of four scenarios:

  • An adult crosses in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and at 30 mph during the day or at 25 mph at night.
  • A child runs out from between parked vehicles in front of a car going 20 mph or 30 mph
  • A driver makes a right-hand turn as an adult crosses the road at the same time.
  • A pair of adults stand, backs to traffic, as a vehicle nears at 20 mph or 30 mph

Four 2019 cars equipped with pedestrian detection systems were used as test vehicles. The tests showed that none of the detection systems spotted the simulated pedestrians. Also, none of the systems wer effective at 30 mph in preventing pedestrian accidents. And in the right turn test, all four vehicles struck the pedestrian target.

In the test with the child target, the child was hit 89 percent of the time and the roadside adults were struck at an 80 percent rate.

When test vehicles were driven straight toward the pedestrians at 20 mph, the systems helped drivers avoid collisions 40 percent of the time.

Safety advocates and researchers hope a combination of emerging technologies, along with changes to roadways and crossings will help to reduce speeds and the frequency of pedestrian accidents.

Let’s hope that a combination of those efforts will drop these preventable tragedies to zero and end the need for personal injury and wrongful death litigation involving collisions of pedestrians and vehicles.