In recent years, vehicle technology has inched closer to a future previously only depicted in sci-fi movies. Things have come a long way, but more research and work must still be done to protect consumers and road users.
Among the many emerging vehicle safety features coming standard in some new cars, automatic braking with pedestrian detection has recently come under scrutiny, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
What are automatic braking and pedestrian detection?
Automatic braking systems are designed to lessen the severity of collisions or prevent them altogether. Once the system's sensors detect an imminent collision risk — such as a sudden halt in traffic — the brakes are automatically applied to slow the car or bring it to a stop.
Pedestrian automatic emergency braking (PAEB) works the same way. The difference is that the sensors are specifically designed to detect pedestrians who enter the roadway in the direct path of a car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, PAEB systems are designed to prevent the following types of crashes with pedestrians:
- When a vehicle is driving straight and a pedestrian is crossing
- Making a right turn at an intersection
- Making a left turn at an intersection
- Driving straight and a pedestrian is walking alongside the road or against traffic
How consistent is this technology?
If you're purchasing a new car that comes standard with automatic braking or PAEB technology, do so with caution. After running a series of tests, AAA researchers found that PAEB technology works inconsistently when used in situations where pedestrians are most likely to be hit by a car. What's even more alarming, PAEB systems were deemed completely ineffective when used at night.
Using simulated pedestrian targets, AAA researchers tested the effectiveness of PAEB systems in the following scenarios:
- An adult pedestrian crossing in the direct path of a car traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph during the daytime, as well as 25 mph at night.
- A child darting out from between two parked cars in the direct path of a car traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph.
- An adult pedestrian crossing the road in the direct path of a car making a right turn
- Two adult pedestrians walking on the side of the road facing away from traffic, with a car traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph
What did the test results show?
The tests found that:
- PAEB systems were effective 40 percent of the time when a car was traveling at 20 mph, with an adult pedestrian crossing the road during the daytime.
- At a speed of 30 mph, PAEB failed to prevent a collision with a simulated adult pedestrian, as well as in all other scenarios.
- At 20 mph, PAEB was deemed ineffective 89 percent of the time when encountering a child darting out from between two parked cars.
- PAEB was deemed completely ineffective when a car encountered a pedestrian while making a right turn.
- At 20 mph, PAEB was deemed ineffective 80 percent of the time when approaching two adult pedestrians on the side of the road facing away from traffic.
- PAEB failed 100 percent of the time when used at night.
You can see for yourself by watching the Youtube video below:
Why drivers should always be fully engaged
Relying solely on any kind of vehicle safety technology is a dangerous thing to do. No matter how advanced a safety feature may be, it's not foolproof. According to AAA, PAEB technology should only serve as a backup, not a substitute for driver responsibility. AAA also suggests that drivers using this technology do the following:
- Read the owner's manual and be aware of which safety features actually come with your car.
- When buying a new car, buyers should discuss these features with the dealer. They should learn how they work, what triggers them to work, and what the system alerts sound like.
- Be careful when driving at night. This is the time when pedestrian fatalities are most likely to occur, with roughly 75 percent of deaths occurring after dark.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a pedestrian crash, you likely sustained serious and debilitating injuries. Enduring the recovery process, financial devastation, and pushy insurance companies can be overwhelming, even frustrating.
The experienced Connecticut car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli want to make the process easier for you. We'll investigate the cause of your crash, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight to maximize your compensation.
Let us do the work for you, so you can focus on recovery. Contact us online today to schedule your free case evaluation with our legal team.