Technology to help walkers avoid traffic accidents works – but not at night

Collision avoidance technologies that detect people walking – such as automatic emergency braking systems that warn drivers when they are at risk of hitting someone and apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the impact – are successful in preventing collisions, but only during the day or on well-lit roads. Systems don’t discriminate in the dark.

Those are the key findings of a new study based on real-world crash data released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-funded nonprofit, which assessed the impact automatic emergency braking (AEB) for pedestrians on its capacity. reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents with people.

Collision avoidance technology for walkers is essential, the safety group noted, as pedestrian fatalities have risen 51% since 2009.

“This is the first real pedestrian AEB study to cover a wide range of manufacturers, and it proves the technology eliminates accidents,” said Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at Insurance. Institute and study author, in a statement. . “Unfortunately, it also shows that these systems are much less effective in the dark, where three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities occur.”

For the study, researchers looked at nearly 1,500 police-reported crashes involving a range of 2017-2020 model year vehicles from different manufacturers. Pedestrian crash rates for identical vehicles with and without pedestrian AEB were compared. The severity of the accident, the lighting conditions, the speed limit and whether or not the vehicles were turning were also assessed.

In all lighting conditions, the technology reduced pedestrian crash rates of all severity levels by 27% and the rate of pedestrian crashes with injuries by approximately 30%. But when the researchers looked at crashes that occurred at night on roads without street lights, there was no difference in crash risk for vehicles with and without automatic emergency braking (AEB) for pedestrians.

In addition to analysis based on actual crash data, the Insurance Institute has undertaken nighttime testing of vehicles equipped with pedestrian AEB systems to assess their effectiveness.

For the tests, still in the development phase, eight small SUVs from eight different manufacturers were evaluated in total darkness on an indoor track. Each vehicle was tested twice – first with their high beams on, then their low beams.

The results from the preliminary track tests were consistent with those from the review of real-world data, the insurance institute said, and will be used as the basis for a new scoring system.

In areas that were not lit, there was no difference in the odds of a nighttime pedestrian crash for vehicles with and without collision avoidance technology, the safety group said. And slower speeds reduced the risk of a crash with a pedestrian, but speeds of 50 mph or more and when a vehicle was turning did not result in any reduction.

However, on a positive note, there are indications that some manufacturers are already improving the nighttime performance of their pedestrian AEB systems, David Aylor, head of active safety testing at the Insurance Institute, said in a statement.

The Insurance Institute plans to release the first nighttime pedestrian collision avoidance ratings later this year to encourage manufacturers to improve nighttime performance.

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