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Car Technologies Making Roads Safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Car Technologies Making Roads Safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Auto, Aviation & Transportation

As cars become more and more sophisticated, vehicle safety technologies have also advanced. Automotive technology not only addresses passenger and driver safety, but the safety of vulnerable road users including pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrian deaths hit a 40 year high in 2022, with more than 7,500 lives lost. Cycling accidents are also on the rise. In the same year, the state of California recorded 8,888 bicycle collisions resulting in 196 deaths.

New car safety systems can compensate for operator error, as well as inattentive people who are walking or riding a bike. When shopping for a new vehicle, consider advanced accident-prevention features including:

Automatic Emergency Braking System with Pedestrian Detection

Automatic emergency braking systems (AEB) use sensors to detect objects ahead and determine whether a collision may happen. First, the system warns the driver, by an alarm or dashboard message, that a crash is likely. If the driver doesn’t respond, the AEB will activate and automatically trigger the brakes. This technology can also be instrumental if a driver falls asleep at the wheel.

A more advanced AEB system uses radar and cameras to detect pedestrians within a 64-foot radius and activates emergency braking in seconds.

Rear Automatic Braking

Similar to AEB, rear automatic braking (RAB) detects a possible collision behind a moving vehicle. If a car reverses at 0.5 mph to 20 mph, the system engages the brakes and emits a warning.

RAB uses two technologies:

• Ultrasonic sensors.

• Short-range radars behind the rear bumper.

Lane Departure Alerts

Lane departure alerts warn you if you’re veering out of your lane. This feature acts as an early warning that you may hit a curb or pedestrian. However, it is only a warning, so you will have to steady the vehicle yourself.

Night Vision

According to a 2021 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, 77 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes occurred at night. Night vision systems use infrared sensors that enhance the dashboard display of pedestrians. They illuminate people who may otherwise be difficult to see with headlights alone.

Backup Cameras

Although rearview mirrors are helpful for backing up, they can’t help you see below the rear window or trunk, and they don’t offer a wide-angle perspective. A backup, or rearview camera, broadens your line of vision and helps eliminate blind spots.

The camera is mounted on the back of your car and connected to a dashboard screen that displays the area behind you. Rear-facing sensors also sound an alert if you’re getting dangerously close to something. Although it doesn’t do the actual backing up, the camera and display activate when you shift into reverse.

Pedestrian Alert System

If a vehicle is operating in electric mode, it may be too quiet for pedestrians to notice. At slow speeds, a pedestrian alert system uses a front-mounted speaker that emits an imitation engine sound to warn walkers of an oncoming car. At higher speeds, EV tire sounds are more audible than engine noises. This makes electric cars sound similar to gas-operated cars. The pedestrian alert system operates in drive or reverse.

Pedestrian Airbags

Pedestrian airbags are useful for decreasing the severity of a collision with a pedestrian. If the apparatus’ sensors detect human legs prior to a collision, the system launches an airbag from the hood’s underside. The airbag covers the car’s lower windshield and A-pillars, protecting a person’s head during impact. The bags deploy at speeds between 12 and 30 mph, because most accidents involving pedestrians happen at city speeds.

Driver Drowsiness Detection Systems

Driver drowsiness happens when a precariously fatigued driver operates a vehicle. Such a depleted state can lead to slowed reactions, faulty decision-making and inattention. These elements can trigger a perfect storm leading to a pedestrian collision.

This predicament can be mitigated by installation of a driver drowsiness detection system. With an infrared camera mounted above the steering wheel, the system constantly tracks eye movements and blinking, head movement and facial expressions. It can also monitor erratic steering, pedal usage and lane drifting.

If the system determines that the driver is hazardously fatigued, it will make noise or vibrate the seat or steering wheel.

The latest vehicle technology has made remarkable breakthroughs in reducing the likelihood of colliding with a pedestrian. However, no system is perfect. Drivers still need to exercise caution, be conscious of their surroundings, stay alert, carefully make turns and be aware of pedestrians and cyclists that share the road with them. 

Car Technologies Making Roads Safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians