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New 2018 Car Technology Includes Pedestrian Detection Systems

Jason Reese


  • With 2018 launching into a fast-moving year for self-driving and autonomous vehicles, it seems an endless list of high-tech safety features are being found in today’s cars, too.
  • Features such as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise controls and adaptive headlights, 360-degree cameras, drowsiness alerts and active park assist are all safety warning signals now available for those looking to purchase a new vehicle.
  • And although collision-warning systems like back up cameras have been around for years; today’s advanced sensors can now detect human movements outside of a moving vehicle and may even automatically apply the brakes if a driver fails to respond in time.
  • It’s important to note that systems like Pedestrian Detection are not a replacement for an attentive driver. Drivers must still keep their eyes on the road and stay attentive, looking ahead for both cars and pedestrians.
  • Even with the help of in-car technologies, in most pedestrian vs. car accident cases, the driver was liable, even when the pedestrian may have been negligent.
  • With an average of one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.6 hours, more help is welcome during a time when transportation officials remain hopeful that self-driving car safety features, like the pedestrian detection systems now available in newer vehicles too, will help prevent accidents and save lives.

High-Tech Safety Features Could Reduce Pedestrian Related Crashes

Latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2015, making this group of road users one of the few to experience an increase in fatalities. What’s more, nearly 129,000 pedestrians visited emergency department to be treated for non-fatal crash-related injuries that same year.

Locally, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) Traffic Safety Division’s (TSD) 2016 Annual Traffic Safety Report states that in 2015, there were 95 pedestrian fatalities across the state. Therefore, the 2015 target of 57 or fewer pedestrian fatalities for the Hoosier state was not met.

Along with communities creating comprehensive safety programs to promote safe pedestrian practices, and more public service campaigns focused on safe driving, advancements in car technology are also hoping to aid in the reduction of pedestrian crashes, fatalities and injuries. One in-car technology called Pedestrian Detection can actually use advanced sensors to detect human movements and help prevent an accident or lessen the injury to the person hit.

A Closer Look at Pedestrian Detection Systems

The “My Car Does What?” campaign from the National Safety Council highlights what a vehicle’s safety detection system does and does not do to protect pedestrians from drivers. The advanced in-car technology, called Pedestrian Detection, involves stereoscopic cameras mounted behind the rearview mirror. The use of radar is able to detect the subtle movements of people like pedestrians and children playing near a road, to help alert a driver when the motion is observed. Here is a brief overview of how the system works.

What does the system do?

Uses advanced sensors to detect human movements ahead and alert the driver. Some may automatically apply the brakes.

How does a driver use a Pedestrian Detection system?

It’s important to note that systems like Pedestrian Detection are not a replacement option for an attentive driver. Drivers must still keep their eyes on the road and stay attentive, looking ahead for pedestrians. Drivers must also understand how their system works for their specific vehicle. The owner’s manual will explain exactly how you will be warned if the system detects a pedestrian and how your car will respond by possibly using automatic braking or another alert signal. In addition:

  • Remember, you as a driver can’t always predict what a person, especially a child, standing on a curb might do. A computer can’t predict this either. You are still responsible, not the technology.
  • Twilight and dusk are among the most dangerous times for pedestrians and drivers. We think we can still see as though it’s daytime, but vision is greatly reduced during these hours and Pedestrian Detection systems may help identify and alert a driver of an unseen person on or near the road.

So far, these systems are more effective at slower speeds and they may not always be able to help avoid a collision. However, this feature can help reduce the speed enough to make the impact more survivable. As research progresses and technology is being added to improve performance, motor vehicle safety specialists remain optimistic for a safer roadway in the future.

If you would like to learn more about auto safety features and technology options found in newer vehicles today, the National Safety Council’s My Car Does What website offers comprehensive descriptions including FAQs and videos.

Common Driver Errors That Cause Pedestrian Injuries or Fatalities

Often, there can be more than one factor playing into a pedestrian vs. vehicle accident. Some of the more common driver errors causing pedestrian injury or fatality include.


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