Your car’s pedestrian detection sensors have major blind spots

A new study has found that pedestrian safety features are ineffective, especially at night.

Your car's pedestrian sensors are less effective than you think. (Courtesy photo)

In 2018, there were 339 car accidents involving at least one pedestrian in Delaware, 25 of which were fatal crashes.

In recent years, auto companies have begun installing tech designed to detect pedestrians and autonomously break in a effort to reduce fatalities — technology, a new study by AAA has revealed, that does not work at night, when 75% of pedestrian fatalities happen.

According to the study, automatic emergency braking systems also failed to stop 100% of the time when the vehicle made a right turn into the path of an adult pedestrian, another common accident scenario. In simulations of a child darting out from between two cars, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time, and the systems were found to be ineffective in all scenarios where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph.

“The rise in pedestrian deaths is a major concern and automakers are on the right path with the intent of these systems,” said Ken Grant, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Wilmington. “Our goal with this testing is to identify where the gaps exist to help educate consumers and share these findings with manufacturers to work to improve their functionality.”

Until pedestrian detection systems are proven to perform at night and in other situations consistently, AAA has issued the following recommendations:
  • Be alert, and consider this technology as a backup only.
  • Read the owner’s manual and ask your dealer questions to understand what safety systems your vehicle has.
  • Be extra careful at night — and know that even headlights aren’t really enough light to allow you to properly react to obstructions.
  • When walking, watch out for wayward or fast-approaching cars.

Download the full report here.

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