Pennsylvania residents may be very aware that new vehicle technologies often focus on improving safety, but they may also wonder if those technologies are achieving their stated goals. It appears that in some cases, the realities on the road show that more people face an increased risk rather than a decreased risk.
One AAA study evaluated a suite of vehicles outfitted with automatic braking and pedestrian detection systems. The vehicles were on a closed course and operated in daylight hours at 20 miles per hour for the test. In six out of 10 cases, the vehicles failed to detect or avoid hitting the pedestrian dummies. The failure rate of these systems may even be worse at night or in dimly lit conditions.
Across the nation, more pedestrians are being killed in vehicle accidents. According to The Verge, 2018 was the deadliest year for pedestrians in the United States since 1990. That year, pedestrian deaths increased 3.4% from the previous year. At the same time, overall vehicular fatalities declined by 2.4%.
In Pennsylvania, the situation appears to be sadly all too similar. Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that over the course of the 10 years spanning from 2009 through 2018, it was 2018 that was the deadliest for pedestrians. That year, 197 people on foot were killed in Pennsylvania, up from 147 in 2017. The second greatest number of pedestrian deaths in the state during that decade was 170 in 2016. Distracted driving may well be one factor that puts pedestrians at risk as many vehicles are now equipped with infotainment systems.