NHTSA Taking Steps to Make Cars Safer for Pedestrians

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A recent article argues that the US Department of Transportation should take the steps necessary to keep pedestrians safe by ensuring that larger vehicles are equipped with safety features, such as blind spot detection, lane keeping support, and pedestrian automatic emergency braking.

A recent column in America Walks argues that the US Department of Transportation should take regulatory steps to ensure that large vehicles associated with higher pedestrian deaths implement technology designed to keep pedestrians safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the NHTSA, has initiated a rule-making process that would rate passenger vehicles for pedestrian safety, and is currently soliciting comments on what its new rules might entail.

As America Walks argues, the existing rating system is outdated, failing to mandate high standards of pedestrian safety design or technology. The NHTSA’s current roadmap for updating the the New Car Assessment Program—the standards that guide new cars’ star datings—proposes that manufacturers use a number of Automated Driver Assistance Systems, or technologies designed to stop crashes before they occur. These include forward collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, and automatic emergency braking. 

The NHTSA also proposes the use of technologies like blind spot detection, blind spot intervention, lane keeping support, and pedestrian automatic emergency braking. America Walks strongly urges for the implementation of these technologies, arguing that “It is critical that these technologies are designed and tested to protect people outside of cars.”

 As for increasingly large SUVs and pickup trucks that pose accordingly increasing risks to pedestrians, the NHTSA will examine “hood and bumper design,” according to America Walks, which notes that some advocates are skeptical whether the NHTSA will “really take on the behemoths ruling the road.”

As for a question in the NHTSA’s request for comment about whether it should “take into consideration systems, such as intelligent speed assist systems, which determine current speed limits and warn the driver or adjust the maximum traveling speed accordingly,” America Walks argues that the answer is yes. “There is no reason to mash the accelerator in a school zone,” the column states. “We already use GPS and speed limiters on shared scooters and electric bikes for safety reasons.” 

For more information on the NHTSA’s request for comment on potential new rules designed to make vehicles safer for pedestrians, including what you can do to make your voice heard, check out America Walks’ column here. 

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