By on December 13, 2007

revised_pyrotechnics_bonnet.jpgEach year, automobiles kill more people than malnutrition, war and stomach cancer. That’s not including drivers and passengers. Obviously, the automobile – pedestrian toll is greatest in developing nations, where road safety is a strictly Darwinian affair. But the industrial world’s pedestrian “ksi” (killed or seriously injured) statistics are also pretty grim. Legislators in Europe, Japan and Korea have decided to take action. They’ve all developed legislative initiatives to force car makers to introduce new technology for reducing pedestrian deaths and injuries. America has no plans to get with the program. Should it?

The stats say yes. Over four thousand American pedestrians are killed in accidents with motor vehicles each year; some seventy thousand are injured. That's roughly eleven percent of all traffic fatalities. The percentage is on the rise. For obvious reasons, children and old people are the most likely to get in harms way. Children account for roughly 10 percent of all pedestrian deaths; that’s about 400 per year in the U.S. alone.

While American safety campaigners focus on law enforcement and driver training (good luck with that), the European Union has launched a technology-based campaign. By 2015, the EU demands that automakers’ products make collisions survivable when they occur between a pedestrian and a car moving at 40kph (24.9 mph). It’s a lofty goal that would save thousands of lives– that depends entirely on technology. 

The EU would like to see brake assist technology as a standard feature in all vehicles. When a computer senses that a driver is using the brakes too hesitantly, the system increases brake force. Experts claim that Brake Assist decreases the number of pedestrian accidents by about five percent. They’d also like to see widespread use of radar or infrared-sensor-based collision avoidance systems. From there, the changes become more radical, and obvious.

To comply with the EU requirements, automakers are already adapting the design of their cars’ fronts— ground zero for pedestrian fatalities. Obviously, a smooth, soft front end is the way forward. That's why the styling of many European cars (e.g. Jaguar’s new XK) has already been changed, with higher, more easily deformable hoods. Much can be achieved by attention to details, within a comprehensive testing procedure.

To quell disquiet over post-accident repair, the U.K. insurance industry's Thatcham Institute recently tested various models to assess the expense of restoring deformed hoods. After a 10kph impact, they found that most SUVs incurred expensive body damage (in addition to having poor pedestrian ratings). In contrast, the Toyota (Euro-Corolla) Auris was both safer for pedestrians and relatively cheap to repair.

European automakers are already taking the next step: hoods with active safety devices that “pop up” the hood to reduce the severity of an impact with a pedestrian's head. Euro-NCAP crash tests have awarded the new Citroen C6 and Jaguar XK four out of five stars for pedestrian protection. Both models were the first to be equipped with “active hoods.” Sweden's Autoliv AB is developing hood airbags to make even inherently dangerous SUVs more pedestrian-friendly.

I recently attended the CTI Car Training Institute’s 2007 Pedestrian Protection Forum at Sindelfingen. It was quite touching to see nerdy auto engineers stand up and say things like "we have the technology, so let's get up off our backsides and do what we can to stop this killing of people.” U.S. officials were noticeably less keen.

In a phone interview, a NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) spokesman told me that America’s vehicle mix-– more trucks and SUVs— isn’t as conducive to pedestrian-friendly technology as cars in the Eurozone. NHTSA research suggests that there are unexplored trade-offs involved. “You can make a car front better for children, but then it may get worse for adults.” Why not publish pedestrian-safety ratings and let the consumer decide? “Again, we don't think you can find a one-size-fits-all solution”.

According to Prof. Florian Kramer at Germany's Dresden Technical University, those are weak arguments. “Of course it is difficult, but in constructing cars, everything is a compromise”, he says. “The point is, there is very much room for improving the pedestrian-safety of cars”. Kramer continued: “Actually, our European NCAP system was inspired by the U.S., and it's difficult to understand why the U.S. is not following up on their own idea, by including pedestrian protection.”

While American pedestrians will benefit from European action on pedestrian safety (given international trade), NHTSA’s reluctance to grasp the nettle and set standards for automakers doing business in the U.S. is likely to backfire in the long term. As was the case with fuel economy innovations, it's no good to pass the ball to foreign competitors if you lose your ability to compete technologically. And anyway: if plane crashes caused the death of 400 children each year, would legislators hesitate to enforce stricter regulations on the airline industry?

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74 Comments on “The Truth About Europe’s Pedestrian Safety Legislation...”


  • avatar

    if plane crashes caused the death of 400 children each year, would legislators hesitate to enforce stricter regulations on the airline industry?

    If those planes were carrying children of the working poor, No. If those planes were carrying children of the solidly middle class, Maybe.

    I think TTAC has already had the discussion about bare bones safety features in schoolbuses.

  • avatar
    allythom

    This has puzzled me for a while. The US is still a far more litigious society than, well, anywhere else. Every time a pedestrian is killed or injured, someone is sued and likely as not, their insurance pays out a small fortune. One would expect the insurance industry to be clamoring for this. I don’t get it, perhaps someone more cynical than I can explain…

    Due to increased globalization, US motorists, and more crucially, pedestrians, will likely reap some of the benefits brought about by the Euro NCAP pedestrian safety measures (as well as the frumpier vehicular front-ends that accompany them). It will in many cases probably be cheaper for manufacturers to sell a vehicle in the US with a basic structure that meets the ‘unnecessary’ pedestrian safety regs required in Europe and elsewhere, than to construct a US only vehicle that does not. (although it’s probable that such devices as pedestrian airbags and pop-up hoods may be left off in the interests of keeping the cost down).

    For example, the Honda CRV is, I believe, a vehicle sold in he US that meets European Pedestrian Safety regulations, it also has an ‘odd’ (to my eyes at least) looking nose.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    As much as I dislike governmental regulation, I do believe that the US federal government should harmonize its regulations with other nations. Not only Euro NCAP pedestrian safety requirements, but also Euro NCAP lighting requirements, at the least, the cheap and easy, such as amber rear turn signals. On the other hand, one could buy a European car which already has built-in advanced safety features.

  • avatar
    jdv

    Please no.

    This technology is still under development. Perhaps we should wait and see if it actually works before we FORCE it on people. There are multiple systems being trialed. Maybe we should see which one has the best result.

    Then there is the question of cost. If this technology costs a few hundred dollars per car, that is literally billions of dollars in cost passed along to the consumer. Is this the smartest way we can save people? Is this the biggest bang for the buck? Or would billions of dollars worth of traffic signs, traffic lights, bike lanes, or any other low tech initiatives be able to save the same amount of lives?

    People are well intentioned when they advocate for something like this, but rarely do they ask if it is the most efficient way to get the same results.

  • avatar

    here’s an idea: stay out of the street.

    I’m against anything that will prolong the lives of people that don’t know how to use a sidewalk.

  • avatar

    If US manufacturers are going to export cars to other markets they’re going to have to put safety legislation in effect anyway.
    US manufacturers do themselves a good deal of harm by always reacting negatively to any pressure on them to up their game.
    You’d think that they’d have learned lessons from the Ford Pinto…

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Experts claim that Brake Assist decreases the number of pedestrian accidents by about five percent.

    And increases the number of rear end collisions by how much?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I think this is why the VW Up! concept has gone (back) to a RR configuration, for better pedestrian compatibility.

    SLLTTAC:
    As much as I dislike governmental regulation, I do believe that the US federal government should harmonize its regulations with other nations. Not only EuroNCAP pedestrian safety requirements, but also EuroNCAP lighting requirements, at the least, the cheap and easy, such as amber rear turn signals.

    I’m in agreement. Trying to get sovereign nations to buckle over, sigh.

    z31:
    here’s an idea: stay out of the street.

    This is a big problem in the Washington DC area where there are lots of fast roads with no crosswalks for miles, and people who have to go to work in the dark. Pedestrian fatalities are a very sad fact of life here.

  • avatar

    This is a geographical issue, and America is not a one size fits all nation.

    I’ve spent enough time in Europe to see the need for such systems, but I’m a Texan and couldn’t care less. Even Houston has enough real estate for cars and pedestrians to coexist in harmony. Most, maybe all, American cities are the same.

    Especially in the flyover states that everyone glosses over: ask someone in the Midwest if they need this stuff.

    So that’s why America shouldn’t pay for these systems, and the extra gas they’ll burn lugging them around in our already overweight cars and SUVs.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Thank you, everybody, for your interesting comments!

    allythom:
    It appears to me that the U.S. insurance industry does have an interest in how cars are designed — it’s only that the template is obsolete, I would say.

    Cars in the U.S. have to withstand a 2.5 MPH collision without any damage. This regulation is what caused those ugly malaise-era bumpers, and is also responsible for car fronts that (in balance) are better at protecting a habitual fender-bender’s wallet than protecting a pedestrian’s life.

    z31: tell that to Stephan King, or to anybody else who has been run over while walking the dog alongside a country road.

    Sajeev: you have a point. The EU regulations aim to eliminate urban deaths. But looking at the NHTSA statistics, one finds that (in percentages) a lot of people die in flyover country:

    “The large cities with the highest pedestrian fatality rates were:

    * No. 1: Detroit, Mich.: Rate 5.05 (Fatalities 48)
    * No. 2: Denver, Colo.: Rate 4.21 (Fatalities 23)
    * No. 3: Phoenix, Ariz: Rate 3.89 (Fatalities 51)
    * No. 4: San Francisco, Calif.: Rate 3.82 (Fatalities 30)
    * No. 5: Dallas, Texas: Rate 3.51 (Fatalities 42)”

    Also you could apply the city/country logic to any sort of car technology regulation. Why install catalytic converters for cars in Nebraska or New Hampshire?

    Nemphre: I agree, there is a trade-off. But I think the trade-off should be towards people.

    All those who commented about the cost. Yes, pedestrian protection technology has a cost — probably lower than a set of oversize rims. We all have to prioritize, at the end of the day.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Sajeev Mehta :
    Especially in the flyover states that everyone glosses over: ask someone in the Midwest if they need this stuff.

    Last I checked, not only does the Midwest have both children and elderly living there but the residents even seem to be fond of them. Why wouldn’t Midwesterners want to reduce pedestrian fatalities?

    Eliminating cowpushers is an easy 1st step. I know they have their place for police/emergency vehicles and cattle lots, but that’s about it.

    While they’re at it, carmakers can make their giant, squared-off macho front ends (pick any SUV or pickup) more aerodynamic and increase gas mileage while saving lives.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Sajeev, I know I am a nuisance, but here are some more stax from NHTSA:

    “The NHTSA research report ranked states and the District of Columbia, in terms of their pedestrian fatality rates (per 100,000 population) for the year 2001. Those with the 10 highest fatality rates were:
    * No. 1: New Mexico: Rate 3.94 (Fatalities 72)
    * No. 2: Arizona: Rate 3.00 (Fatalities 159)
    * No. 3: Florida: Rate 2.98 (Fatalities 489)
    * No. 4: South Carolina: Rate 2.66 (Fatalities 108)
    * No. 5: Hawaii: Rate: Rate: 2.45 (Fatalities 30)
    * No. 6: Louisiana: Rate 2.19 (Fatalities 98)
    * No. 7: Nevada: Rate 2.14 (Fatalities 45)
    * No. 8: Delaware: Rate 2.14 (Fatalities 17)
    * No. 9: Texas: Rate 2.11 (Fatalities 449)
    * No. 10: Mississippi: Rate 2.06 (Fatalities 59)”

  • avatar
    carguy

    The domestic car companies will fight this like they have fought all safety and pollution standards. They will scare the public by claiming that they will not be able to afford safer cars, they will whine to congress that they will go out of business and they will wave the flag and claim that ‘forcing’ these safety standards onto free Americans is gateway to socialism. Yes, we have heard all this before. We can also expect that owners of jacked up trucks with big tires will decry that a truck without a massive hood will make them feel gay.

    In the meantime European and Japanese car makers will get to work to meet the new standards and will continue to thrive and take customers away from the domestics.

    Our pedestrian road toll on innocent lives is worse than that of all sex offenders and terrorists combined – shouldn’t we at least make an attempt to do something about it?

  • avatar

    Martin: Very interesting. Does NHTSA publish those percentages online? Now I’m curious to see just how bad (percentage wise) flyover cities are compared to the likes of NYC and Boston.

    bfg9k:“Why wouldn’t Midwesterners want to reduce pedestrian fatalities?”

    My question back: will this technology actually make a difference? We drive much faster in the US, making this technology’s life saving abilities up for debate. And the aforementioned real estate cushion enjoyed by many of us in the middle of the country may still be a valid point.

    I’m all for safety–especially if the designs lower aerodynamic drag–but I have my doubts about the hood sensors/actuators.

  • avatar

    I just read Martin’s second reply to me. I think I’ve changed my mind on the issue, but…I’d like to know how much of an improvement we’d see from more realistic car designs (CUVs? Bad idea) compared to these popping hoods.

    After all, cars in Europe are smaller, have MUCH less frontal area, and go slower (30mph or less) in urban conditions. So is this an apples to oranges comparo?

    And can we fix America’s problem with this one piece of technology?

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    All of this handwringing about pedestrian safety seems to be done in a vacuum. Is there any evidence that the Euro standards are saving more lives or reducing injuries? Instead of aggregate numbers of fatalities/injries, what are the number of pedestrian deaths/injures per mile driven? Per square mile? What are the car/predestrian accident rates in Europe — are they different than here in the US? Are they better or worse? How many of the stats reflect accidents in which, because of the nature of the accident, even the best safety standards would not have helped?

    I ask because the law of diminishing marginal returns suggests that at some point, the incremental cost of each life saved or each head injury averted becomes staggering. So long as there are cars, there will be impacts with pedestrians. What is the goal here — total elimination of car/pedestrian impacts? Total elimination of fatalities? What is an acceptable reduction? What is an acceptable reduction in fatalities/injures compared to what they money we spend as a society to implement these measures could have been used for?

    It’s one thing to make cars as safe as possible for occupants. But when we start looking at already-rare occurrences like pedestrian accidents (which are probably vastly outnumbered by car-on-car accidents) and decreeing that we have to make those safer, I start to worry that we are losing focus on what is important.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Sometimes regulations like those proposed and enacted to protect pedestrians in Europe and Asia have unintended consequences that exasperate the problem. If the regulations that make cars safer for pedestrians make cars less affordable, then fewer people (mostly poor) will be able to travel by car, thereby putting more vulnerable and relatively unprotected pedestrians, motorcycles and bicyclists on the roads. In the end, more people might end up getting killed in accidents. Martin, are you aware of any economic or actuarial analysis that consider these factors?

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    If those planes were carrying children of the working poor, No. If those planes were carrying children of the solidly middle class, Maybe.

    Good grief. Of course there would be legislation, regardless of class.

  • avatar
    John B

    z31:
    “here’s an idea: stay out of the street.”

    Any suggestions then on how to cross the street? I was hit by a car when crossing at a signaled intersection, on a green light. The dumb broad gassed her car to make a left hand turn while I was looking away to make sure traffic stopped for the red light. I never saw it coming. I guess I was lucky in getting off with only a broken leg and nose, probable light concussion, broken tooth various cuts and bruising.

    What really pissed me off though was the fact the police only charged her with “failing to yield to a pedestrian”. No shit Sherlock.

  • avatar

    starlightmica :
    This is a big problem in the Washington DC area where there are lots of fast roads with no crosswalks for miles

    no sidewalks or no crosswalks?

    I’m referring mostly to the idiots who walk down the middle of the street instead of using the sidewalks (mostly in residential areas where I’m sure there are far fewer fatalities). If I had a safety hood, I’d have to get out of my car to finish Darwins job. That’s terribly inconvenient.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Bill: sure, I agree, all regulations have unintended consequences, and all public policy has unintended consequences. We can try to think through what might happen, and what will probably happen, and doing this is part of what makes TTAC so fun.

    To answer your question directly, I do not know of any good examples of economic or actuarial analysis in this area. Generally, this is a weak point of all safety legislation.

    If I understand you correctly, you see a danger of cars getting so expensive that people switch to mopeds or Segways or whatnot. But pedestrian protection, done wisely, need not be expensive at all. The basics are already there: soft, foam-padded fronts, rounder hoods/bonnets, recessing the hard stuff such as ornaments, headlights, window-wiper machinery.

    A *welcome* unintended consequence is how safety equipment such as ABS becomes less expensive as it travels down the economic food chain. But it has to be implemented somewhere first. ABS and airbags started out on luxury cars. But there may a market failure in the case of pedestrian protection; at least, it sounds like a hell of a job to get people into showrooms based on it.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Sajeev:
    “After all, cars in Europe are smaller, have MUCH less frontal area, and go slower (30mph or less) in urban conditions. So is this an apples to oranges comparo?

    It’s not primarily the frontal area, it’s the shape. And to be honest with you, my impression is that people in America drive in a much more civil fashion in urban areas than they do in Europe. But even so, what’s the difference? Are you saying society might as well give up on the topic because some maniac drivers will drive so quickly, or drunkly, that they’d still kill people, no matter what?

    “And can we fix America’s problem with this one piece of technology?”
    You can’t fix anything with one piece of technology. I would say developing pedestrian protection technology is a matter of science, requiring thousands of man-years of study. But why should car makers go the extra thousand miles if nobody forces them?

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Martin Schwoerer said:
    Cars in the U.S. have to withstand a 2.5 MPH collision without any damage. This regulation is what caused those ugly malaise-era bumpers, and is also responsible for car fronts that (in balance) are better at protecting a habitual fender-bender’s wallet than protecting a pedestrian’s life.

    During the malaise-era (1973-1982, as I recall), automobiles in the US were required to withstand a 5 MPH collision without any damage. This was relaxed to 2.5 MPH at the behest of U.S. automakers, who balked at the extra weight and poorer aerodynamics required to incorporate the shock absorbers used between bumper and frame during this era. Then again, most US-made cars of this era were big brick outhouses by today’s standards.

    On a related note, the first pedestrian/automobile accident (and fatality) I ever witnessed occurred in 1978, when a Volkswagen Beetle hit a childhood friend on her bicycle (she’d ridden right out into the street in front of it). The victim bounced clean over the top of the otherwise extremely rounded Beetle.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    Ugh. The only thing I see this doing is making cars uglier.

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    I would be curious to see how pedestrian deaths break out by roadway type.

    Here in Southern California, we have about 80 pedestrian deaths per year on the freeways.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-freeway11dec11,1,3019284.story

    There’s no realistic way that car designs can prevent those deaths.

    OTOH, I vaguely recall that in the mid-1990s the British government asked Land Rover owners to quit installing “roo” bars on their vehicles because they were crushing pedestrians chests.

    It seems like we need to strike a balance somewhere but it’s difficult to determine where the balance should be.

  • avatar

    Martin: I’m saying this topic points to bigger problems that need to be addressed in America. And getting to the truth requires data gathered with American cars crashing into pedestrian crash test dummies at higher speeds.

    Will this safety device make a “dent” in America’s unique take on this problem? Maybe. Should we force car makers to add the hood gizmo and make the car buying public foot the bill? Maybe, but I’m still skeptical.

    fallout11: did Detroit really balk at it? Many plastic bumper’d cars from the 1980s were designed to meet the 5mph law, including the slippery and somewhat beautiful ’86 Taurus. They did the R&D for it and 5mph continued into the 1990s, IIRC.

    Those disco yachts had bumpers good for much more than that. Take any car from that era and its pogo-stick bumpers will crush any modern car: its crumple zones emerge unscathed in 10-20mph accidents. Well, except for the compression scratches on its bumper shocks and a busted license plate frame. (ask me how I know) :-)

  • avatar
    carguy

    For all those with rose colored rear vision mirrors – the cars of the late 70s and early 80s may seem like they were solidly built and may have had shiny bumpers but that does not translate into occupant safety. Modern cars, even with all the plastic looking trim, are much safer than any car of a bygone era.

    As for these proposal’s impact on pedestrian lives – we don’t have to parrot everything the Europeans do but it is a no brainer to start with lower hoods on SUVs and trucks as it may not only save some pedestrians but also drivers of smaller cars. You don’t need a study to conclude that having a uniform impact height will make everyone safer and the design of safer cars easier.

  • avatar

    carguy: 70s and 80s cars had plastic interior bits everywhere and yards of crush zones. Laws of physics aside–I don’t wanna hit a Buick Electra in a Chevy Aveo–it is airbags that make newer cars safer in a crash than older ones.

    Put airbags in a late-70s yacht and you have one of the safest cars on the plant. For the people inside the car, of course. Everyone else is screwed.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Eric_Stepans :
    Thanks for the link to the pretty gruesome story…

    As to your question, this is from the NHTSA site, on pedestrian fatatities:
    * 18 percent involve hit-and-run crashes.
    * 78 percent occur at non-intersections.
    * 44 percent occur on roadways without crosswalks.
    * 64 percent occur on urban roadways.
    * 63 percent of pedestrians killed are male.
    * 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between midnight and 6 a.m.
    * 46 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.

    It seems to indicate that a good proportion of accidents in the U.S. are not on freeways. I would agree that data about vehicle speed during the accident would be useful, but I doubt it is upcoming.

    Let’s not forget the 70k injuries each year, many of which would be less severe / disabling with better-constructed cars.

    It funny that when we think about our own safety, more is generally better — and damn the cost. When you buy a new car, do you really think about whether the curtain airbags are worth the 500 bucks extra charge? You just go for it, and feel better about your car, and you say that the price is really nothing over the years that you’ll be driving it.

    So why do we balk at making cars safer for pedestrians? The psychology of this is odd. I am a fast driver, and I have been in quite a few risky situations over the years. I am darn glad I never harmed anybody. Putting it differently, I told my daughter, who is getting her license, that if she gets herself killed, then her parents would never be happy again. But that if she herself ever killed somebody on the road, then she would never be happy again. Don’t know if that worked.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The “flyover states” argument is a funny one. It’s like you guys are implying that a) they’re 100% rural, and b) since they don’t have urban areas the rest of the country should abide by laws designed for rural areas.

    Our cities aren’t all that different from Europe’s, except there you don’t see drivers waving you across the street. Generally, cars are used to having the right of way there (whereas here a lot of cities will ticket you for not yielding to a pedestrian).

    We have our share of suburban pedestrian deaths too. It’s hard to stop those because in the suburbs, we’re just not used to seeing pedestrians. People do 35mph in residential zones because they’ve never seen anyone cross the street there, and then one day it happens and they hit them. Training can’t help with that, because after 200 days without seeing a pedestrian, any logical driver is going to assume that there won’t be one the next time.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sajeev – I will have to respectfully disagree with you for two reasons:

    1. Cars of the late 70s were not designed with the passenger safety cell philosophy. During a higher speed impact, the passenger space deforms as much as the hood which can cause horrific accidents. This is from experience, I was part of a team that responded to a crash involving a 1978 Ford Falcon (Australian) in which the dash not just crushed the legs of both drivers in the front seat but the driver was impaled on the old fashioned steering column.

    2. Car crash survival is not only a matter of protection from intrusion but also one of attempting to buffer the deceleration trauma caused by the impact. Modern cars try to buffer as much as they can with crumple zones in order to slow down the deceleration and dissipate the energy. This is not so in old car which often have frame bases chassis which transfer the full impact force to its occupants in an instant. Even in a lower speed crash with little visible damage, the driver can die by hitting the dash too quickly. Remember – while a tank looks strong it can kill its occupants in even a low speed crash – it’s like jumping out of a third floor window and hitting concrete.

    Also, lets compare like cars – given the choice of crashing in a 08 Accord or Taurus or in any car (full size or not) of the 70′ or 80′ I would take the modern vehicle any day. Likewise, I would rather take my chances in any of today’s small cars against an AMC Gremlin or Ford Pinto.

  • avatar

    carguy: I was speaking to crash test footage I’ve seen of American land yachts (not Pintos, Falcons or other cars with smaller crumple zones) which were quite common in the late 70s. 30MPH impacts had little or no effect on the passenger compartment, crashing one of these beasts into a smaller car will put you in a more advantageous position.

    The Achilles heel for these tanks was the lack of airbags. This is a big plus for newer cars, I think we are in total agreement there.

    The “flyover states” argument is a funny one. It’s like you guys are implying that a) they’re 100% rural, and b) since they don’t have urban areas the rest of the country should abide by laws designed for rural areas.

    No, the flyover states have less densely populated cities with more real estate for roads and sidewalks. There aren’t too many Bostons and NYCs in the middle of America. Its a weak argument given Martin’s car fatality data, however.

  • avatar
    rottenbob

    CarShark : Ugh. The only thing I see this doing is making cars uglier.

    You took the words right out of my mouth!

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sajeev – the Falcon was (and still is) a full size car.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Falcon_Cobra

    Just because you can sit on the hood without making a dent doesn’t make it safe. Also the airbags don’t help either of the points I made in my previous comment.

    Trust me on this one – I’ve seen enough of the aftermath of these types of accidents to last me a lifetime.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Martin: I told my daughter, who is getting her license, that if she gets herself killed, then her parents would never be happy again. But that if she herself ever killed somebody on the road, then she would never be happy again. Don’t know if that worked.

    Sounds good to me. My oldest gets his license this year. I’m definitely going to tell him this before we set him loose on the world.

  • avatar

    carguy: we still aren’t talking about the same type of car. That Wiki link shows a Falcon with bumpers about half the size of what I’m referring to. Its probably smaller than the “downsized” models Detroit rolled out in 1977-1980.

    Just because you can sit on the hood without making a dent doesn’t make it safe.

    No…the crumple zones, 3 feet of overhang, huge bumpers on spring loaded mounts, padded dash, pleather wrapped everything and collapsing steering columns do that.

    Trust me on this one – I’ve seen enough of the aftermath of these types of accidents to last me a lifetime.

    I see your points, but I don’t know if you’re talking about the same caliber of full size cars that I am. The ones that roamed American roads by the millions for a brief period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Continental_Mark_V

  • avatar
    CarShark

    @MartinSchwoerer

    So why do we balk at making cars safer for pedestrians? The psychology of this is odd.

    No, it isn’t. People buy cars to protect the occupants of the car, not pedestrians. Like I said before, if I’m looking at a car, and don’t like the looks of it (because it has to be more “pedestrian friendly”), that may cause me not to buy it. I think automakers in America should lean towards the buyer on this issue, because you can’t finance R&D on good will.

    This just strikes me as another “big government” power grab.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    One more question. Why lay the expense and complexity for pedestrian safety equipment on the automobile owner. Why doesn’t the pedestrian bear any responsibility for their own safety?

    I think all pedestrians should be required to wear highly reflective football pads and helmets (American football, that is). I’d guess this could be done for less than $200 per pedestrian and the system would work with older cars as well as new.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Before anyone complains, allow me to apologize for my last ludicrous comment. Public safety is a serious subject and it’s a good thing that persons more respectable than me are working toward its improvement. I pledge not to comment on this again. Eh, today. I mean, I pledge not to comment on this again today.

    Sincerely,
    Bill

  • avatar

    You can not solve purely social problems with technology.

    How many pedestrians killed by cars are stumbling drunks?
    How many are wandering lunatics?

    Take away the at-fault pedestrians and how many INNOCENT victims are really left? I imagine very few. I can’t think of anyone I know that has been killed by a car. I’ve been hit by cars three times in my life as a regular bicycle commuter, and even I don’t see the logic of these stupid regulations.

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    z31:
    no sidewalks or no crosswalks?

    Yup. Our subdivision is right off one of these 4 lane, 55mph, poorly lit, no sidewalk or crosswalk not-quite-a-highway roads. They’re quite common in these parts.

    My collision? smacked a deer at 2AM driving a Miata down that road. Fortunately the damage to the car was minor as the deer bounced off and over the nose, and then presumably ran off as I was unable to find a body.

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    One of the things brought out by the LA Times article on freeway pedestrian deaths…

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-freeway11dec11,1,3019284.story

    …is that not only are people lousy drivers, they’re lousy pedestrians, too.

    People cross traffic lanes on the freeway because they don’t realize just how quickly the cars are traveling. They think they have 5 – 10 seconds of space when in reality they have 2 – 3 seconds.

    Maybe we should make ‘pedestrian education’ mandatory with ‘driver education’. To all peds: Yes, you have the right of way, but the Laws of Physics don’t care.

    That being said, I think that the 2.5mph/5mph bumper standards are a reasonable analogy.

    They provided some guaranteed level of bumper protection so that not every parking lot bumper-bash resulted in huge repair bills.

    Similarly, we should probably have some standard for pedestrian protection so that not every low-speed car-pedestrian collision results in huge medical bills.

    Whether or not the NCAP standards are the way to go, I am uncertain.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Not wanting to overdo the save-the-children argument Chuck, but I think there’s a keen possibility that not so many of them are drunk or wandering lunatics when they get run over.

    But of course, they still might very well not be innocent. You never know.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    z31 wrote:
    here’s an idea: stay out of the street.

    I’m against anything that will prolong the lives of people that don’t know how to use a sidewalk.

    Martin Schwoerer replied:
    z31: tell that to Stephan King, or to anybody else who has been run over while walking the dog alongside a country road.

    Martin, poor response. Stephan King was not in the street. He was alongside. The driver was clearly at fault. And what – King would have been unhurt if some sort of hood pop-up gizmo had been in place?

    Instead of adding another thousand or so dollars to the cost of every new car, how about we change our laws so that those who maim innocents spend 6 months in the hole. Run a few PSA’s on Oprah highlighting such cases. You may get certain people to turn in their licenses…

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    ihatetrees: point taken about Stephan King. I did take some polemical license.

    However: a pedestrian is a pedestrian, regardless of whether he is on the street or on the sidewalk or alongside the street. Accidents will happen; cars go to where they don’t belong and so do pedestrians. My point is that automotive technology should aim to minimize the damage.

    It’s safe to say that Stephan King’s injuries would have been less serious if he had been hit by a safer car. I may be wrong but I think science is on my side.

    Certainly, you are entitled to your position if you are saying that the penal system alone should take care of pedestrians, but I can’t see it your way.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Martin:
    It’s safe to say that Stephan King’s injuries would have been less serious if he had been hit by a safer car. I may be wrong but I think science is on my side.

    Certainly, you are entitled to your position if you are saying that the penal system alone should take care of pedestrians, but I can’t see it your way.

    I’d be happy if things just went 1/10th as much my way (toward more personal responsibility / criminal sanction) as yours (more safety systems). Look at the senior who mowed down a half dozen people in that California market. He got probation. Society accepts such actions – and wants to blame the car that doesn’t have an instant-on, deployable, bubble-wrap bumpers and body.

    Of course, the vast majority of pedestrians are killed in the road crossing where they shouldn’t.

    The sad thing: This problem is going to get worse. When I-Pod headphones are replaced by Eye-Pod goggles, the chronically distracted and afflicted will be smashing themselves and others more than ever. All while watching their favorite porn star.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The bumper standards in the U.S. were introduced in response to insurance company complaints regarding the weakness of bumpers on several 1960s models. Led by the original Mustang, maunfacturers virtually eliminated the gap between the bumper and the sheetmetal. This was very stylish, but meant that even a parking lot “ding” would crumple both bumper and sheetmetal.

    Also, various car models had bumpers at different heights, which increased the damage in minor collisions.

    The standards were relaxed in part because while the tougher bumpers did minimize damage for those collisions under 5 mph, when the collision was over 5 mph, the more expensive bumper and mounting system cost about twice as much to repair as the pre-standard bumpers.

    As for the pedestrian standards – it was my understanding that some of the new Hondas sold in the U.S. meet that standard, or at least were designed with pedestrian safety in mind.

    I seem to recall that both the new Civic and new Accord were designed for pedestrian safety, which is interesting, as the cars take quite different approaches to front-end styling (rounded, low-sloping front on the Civic; versus the high, blunt front on the Accord).

  • avatar
    Theodore

    I struck a pedestrian once. It was her fault, not mine. Somehow, that didn’t seem to matter when she was lying there in the street with blood pouring out.

    I am my brother’s keeper.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Martin, this legislation just REEKS of bureaucratic idiocy that does not focus on the ROOT CAUSE of the problem.

    * 18 percent involve hit-and-run crashes.
    * 78 percent occur at non-intersections.
    * 44 percent occur on roadways without crosswalks.
    * 64 percent occur on urban roadways.
    * 63 percent of pedestrians killed are male.
    * 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between midnight and 6 a.m.
    * 46 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.

    So why do we balk at making cars safer for pedestrians?

    Let me break it down for you and you shall see the light (if you are a logical individual). You say that the regulations are aimed at saving a pedestrians life if they are hit at 24 mph. Based on that statistical breakdown you posted from the NHTSA, you won’t be saving that many lives here in the US.

    * 18 percent involve hit-and-run crashes. Where? Highways? Country roads? Unless you post where, this stat is useless.

    * 78 percent occur at non-intersections. Sure, let’s not focus on the fact that the pedestrian was crossing the street illegally…… How about educating the Darwin Award recipient not to cross where there is not a crossing, hmmmm? Look both ways before you cross is another good one. Don’t cross where drivers can’t see you. Yes, ONLY cars are to blame for pedestrian deaths. That is a HUGE percentage of fatalities right there.

    * 44 percent occur on roadways without crosswalks. How about using the sidewalk then? Does this include freeway shoulders and 2-lane country roads? If so, then the pedestrian is most likely going to be hit at speeds faster than 24 mph….try double that.

    * 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between midnight and 6 a.m.
    * 46 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.
    So a whopping 54 percent of fatalities occur when it’s most likely dark outside. By the time you see the pedestrian, it’s too late for them and you are traveling faster than 24 mph.

    I theorize that most fatalities and injuries that occur while the pedestrian has the true legal right-of-way in a crossing is insignificantly small.

  • avatar
    NickR

    When a computer senses that a driver is using the brakes too hesitantly, the system increases brake force.

    No thanks. One day, not too long ago, I was driving on the fast moving (well, when it is moving) 401, I gently tapped the breaks to let someone squeeze into my lane. I am still not sure what happened, but some sensor, some computer chip, locked all four wheels simultaneously…at 120km/h. I hadn’t hit the brakes hard enough to lock old fashioned brakes. I went into a huge slide (counterclockwise) then piroutted (clockwise) and shot across the highway into the ditch. (Sorry, long story.)

    In summary, I want more bits and bytes doing the braking for me like I want a (second) heart stopping car incident.

  • avatar
    stuki

    I’d like to see a ‘system’ in place where the difference between the pedestrian’s actual injury, and his predicted injury had the driver driven optimally and in the most pedestrian friendly vehicle available at time of accident, would be counted as the responsibility of the driver. That way, things such as freeway accidents, which would likely have resulted in a pedestrian fatality even with Has Stuck piloting the fanciest of European foam cars would not count against the driver, while the cost of the risk to others from a drivers decision to drive too fast, fumble with his stereo/coffee mug/cellphone, or choose a vehicle likely to cause higher than absolutely necessary pedestrian suffering is fully borne by him. As technology advanced, this would automatically make it more and more ‘expensive’ for drivers to refuse to get on the bandwagon. It would also encourage those who for one reason or another have to drive a more dangerous vehicle to take extra care while doing so, and not force some hypothetical super driver to pay for technology he would not need.

    Fat chance finding any politico out there capable of even comprehending this, though; much less explain it to their CNN and Fox voter bases.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Wow, I am just surprised at the quality of discussion we are having here. It’s a new and complicated topic, and I am happy we are keeping our exchange civil.

    In adressing some points that were brought up, I’ll try to be as concise as possible.

    - fallout110: thanks for the correction about the 5MPH malaise-era bumpers.

    - Re: Honda. Several readers have commented on the front of the CRV and other Honda models. My take is that Honda may be the most advanced and ambitious company in the field of pedestrian protection. A senior Honda engineer was present at the recent conference, and he demonstrated (for example) how Honda has developed a new type of dummy for pedestrian crash testing. Kudos to them.

    - Re: Brake Assist. This is already standard in several cars, such as in the Mercedes line. Its pros have been amply demonstrated and its cons sound acceptable to me. As a general principle, I do not like electronic nannies but I think this one is as useful as ABS, so it will come sooner or later, no matter what we might say. So why not (in this case) support legislation that makes it happen sooner? Marginal costs decrease with mass introduction.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Unlike in Europe and elsewhere, in America, roads are for cars. If you don’t want to get hit by a car, don’t stand in the road. This is a solution looking for a problem. The article makes no mention of who is at fault in these collisions, are cars riding on sidewalks taking out pedestrians “Death Race 2000″ style? why should the car owner have to pay more to protect someone who should probably be removed from the gene pool anyway?

  • avatar

    Detroit-Iron, I like the cut of your jib.

    Does anyone have stats on car vs bicycle accidents? I would think the threat to them would be much higher, since they are acually supposed to be on the roads.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    No thanks. One day, not too long ago, I was driving on the fast moving (well, when it is moving) 401, I gently tapped the breaks to let someone squeeze into my lane. I am still not sure what happened, but some sensor, some computer chip, locked all four wheels simultaneously…at 120km/h. I hadn’t hit the brakes hard enough to lock old fashioned brakes. I went into a huge slide (counterclockwise) then piroutted (clockwise) and shot across the highway into the ditch. (Sorry, long story.)

    What kind of car were you in? I don’t know of any cars with brake assist that don’t also have ABS and stability control.

    Just curious…

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I have been hit by a car as a pedestrian. Took about a year to recover from head injuries. z31 – I was on the sidewalk, drunk driver ran a stop sign, hit another car, bounced off that car and hit me on the sidewalk. That said, I am totally against legislating this. Cars are already too heavy, and we all suffer from heavier cars (reduced gas mileage, poorer performance, more expensive). What’s the collateral damage from this legislation? Is it worth it?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    ktm makes very good points. Creating this expensive solution for a limited situation is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    ktm: the statistics are from NHTSA. I looked for ones that could answer your questions but was not successful. If anybody has some, please post.

    Generally, accident statistics do not include details about crash speed. Accident participants do not supply reliable data. So a different approach is in order.

    Let’s look at the two areas in which most pedestrian deaths occur.

    - Urban areas — over 70%. Taking into account that crash speeds are usually considerably slower than cruising speed (people usually apply the brakes before they hit somebody), I don’t think it is a stretch to say that a lot of lives are saveable.

    - Rural roads. Average speeds are of course higher in this case, but still well below those of freeways. Again, the majority of collisions will be proceeded by strong deceleration.

    In general terms: If all traffic accidents were happening at un-decelerated 60 mph, there would be a lot more deaths. Real impact speeds are a lot lower. Cars nowadays are constructed to make an impact speed of around 60kph/40mph survivable, and not much more than that.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Does the computer decide if you are to be rear-ended by an 18 wheeler or hit a deer?

  • avatar
    James2

    No. 5: Hawaii: Rate: 2.45 (Fatalities 30)

    I live here. Just yesterday a 91-year-old man was killed by a car driven by a 71-year-old. He was far from a marked crosswalk. Of course, the AARP focused on the pedestrian, ignoring that the aged driver maybe shouldn’t have been driving. How is technology going to address the aging factor?

    In downtown HNL, every day I see old folks (primarily) who cross at whim. Day, night, rain, sun, green light, red light, it just doesn’t matter. They never once seem to check the flow of traffic.

    Perhaps these people have decided that they’ve used up their quota of life and every additional day they live is just gravy. Either that or they have a unique sense of their immortality. They must have faith that drivers will brake in time.

    While I don’t mean to sound (too) cold-blooded, risk is a natural part of life and to think it can be legislated out of existence and/or remedied with technology is extremely naive.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    James2 :
    “While I don’t mean to sound (too) cold-blooded, risk is a natural part of life and to think it can be legislated out of existence and/or remedied with technology is extremely naive.”

    Thanks for your comment, and I don’t think it sounds cold-blooded. But let me ask this: Are you saying that as a matter of principle, you are against technological approaches to life’s risks? Does that mean you disapprove of airbags, seatbelts, crumple zones? Or does it mean that you like the technological status quo, but that you think enough is enough already?

    I can understand if it’s that. Each day we read something whiney about some new remedy to society’s problems. We throw up our hands and say: What’s next, obligatory playground helmets for kids? Airbags for hedgehogs?

    But I say, let’s keep a proper perspective. The number of people dying on the streets is horrendous. Technology is (merely!) a part of the solution, but it can be highly cost-effective.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    If Honda can put an airbag in a motorcycle I guess anything is possible, I would think systems that prevent a collision would be far more benificial than systems that lesson the harm caused by one though.

  • avatar
    TickTack

    I can’t believe people are against extra safety built into our cars.

    Look, were not talking about expensive pop-up systems in those higher-end cars, although that will become cheaper. Pedestrian safety can come from the fundamental design of the car (i.e. no pointy bits and softer sheet metal) Cars look gayer? Tough luck. Costs slightly more? You don’t need that DVD player anyway.

    You see, I don’t subscribe to the apparently popular opinion here that pedestrians who get hit by cars because of their own mistake should deserve to die or become disabled for life. I don’t think its bad to give them better chances in the equation of cars vs humans.

    Martin:”But I say, let’s keep a proper perspective. The number of people dying on the streets is horrendous. Technology is (merely!) a part of the solution, but it can be highly cost-effective.”

    What he said.

  • avatar
    jl1280

    From what I see everyday I think that safety might be improved by just following some of the basics. Stop signs mean stop. Red means stop. Yellow means stop if you can, not accellllerate! Double lines means don’t pass. School zones mean slow down to posted limits. 50 means 50 and 30 means 30. Bike lanes mean bikes use those lanes. Pedestrian crossings means pedestrians use them. So, of course, make cars safer, but that doesn’t make drivers any better. Let’s not forget that better driving would really reduce accidents.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Ticktack, I am all for making cars safer, however, I firmly believe (given that I am an engineer and faced with these decisions daily) that the time, money and effort should be focused where it will do the most good.

    You seemed to miss my earlier post. The legislation in Europe is targeting the speed of 24 mph. What is NOT given in the statistics is the vehicle speed at which all of the fatalities occured.

    If you review the statistics Martin obtained from the NHSTA, 54% of the incidents occured AT NIGHT. Given that the driver probably did not see the pedestrian until it was too late, they were most likely hit at full speed (say 25 to 35 mph). The same can be said for the other statistics.

    This legislation is reactive not proactive. It is focusing on what happens AFTER the accident. I say that the money spent on developing ‘soft cars’ should be spent on PROACTIVE measures that pedestrian/roadside threat identification.

    We have backup sensors, backup cameras, nightvision cameras, etc. in cars. We have the technology to actively scan the immediate vicinity and alert us to pedestrians that are too close to the road.

    Alert the driver BEFORE the accident.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Here’s a quote:

    “EU-wide, Phase 2 is expected to prevent 854 deaths a year among pedestrians and cyclists, and 36,917 serious injuries.”
    Source: European Commission, whereas “Phase 2″ is the level of protection described in this article.

    Quite honestly, the idea that all these children, all these adults, are being killed exclusively at high speeds didn’t come to my mind.

    As I have stated that the majority of accidents are in urban areas, and in general terms most accidents are preceeded by considerable deceleration, it is difficult to comprehend where this assumption about exclusively high accident speeds is coming from.

    Accidents happen at all speeds. Pedestrians are very often injured in a very severe manner at very low speeds. They are also often killed at low speeds. Many of these injuries and deaths are totally unnecessary, and are mainly caused by poor automotive construction. To hear that it is somehow unnecessary to make cars’ exteriors safer, even at a low price, just because it wouldn’t save *everybody’s* life, boggles my mind.

  • avatar
    matt

    In my opinion, they’re going about this the wrong way. You have to ask yourself ‘Why are pedestrians being hit?’ They either are:

    - crossing the street without looking
    - crossing in a place where a driver can’t see you
    - the driver is going too fast for the condtions
    - the driver isn’t paying attention
    - the driver is impaired (drunk, tired, angry, whatever)

    All these are not faults of the cars. Smart legislation would attach the root of the problem, not give us another band-aid to slow the bleeding. These tragedies are the fault of the pedestrians and drivers. We need to take responsibility for what we do. Sure, there are accidents and they are unfortunate, but I bet if we all did our part to be better, safer drivers and better, safer pedestrians, then you’d see the accident rate drop across the board far quicker and far more permanently than if we had marshmallow hoods or whatever else.

    But then again, its so much easier to have someone else do all the hard work for us.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Matt: What you say is common sense but we all know that relying on other people to do what they are supposed to with cars is a fool’s bet. For as long as there are (user controlled) cars on the road there will be people driving them improperly. Even with all the education and training in the world, saftey systems like seat belts, air bags, ABS are still going to get used on a daily basis.

  • avatar
    matt

    tankd0g: I am not enough of an idealist to think that it isn’t a fool’s bet, but I will ask the question ‘Why does it have to be?’ Why can’t we increase driving standards? It would cost us nothing, except a little extra effort behind the wheel. Why can’t we teach kids to cross the street properly? Again, zero cost. I’m saying instead of trying to legislate our way out of this problem, lets try using a bit of common sense, and as long as we accept the ‘fact’ that people will be negligent behind the wheel, and legislate new safety measures that allow them to be negligent behind the wheel, they will continue to be negligent behind the wheel.

    Like in a previous anecdote, a poster (someone who posts, not a big peice of paper, funny mental image though) got hit by a inattentive driver and all the driver got was a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian. Telling me that the best way to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future is to put airbags in the hood of my car reeks of….futility.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    While that may be the ideal solution the only way it could happen is to only allow people who can pass an extremely stringent driving exam, one that involves many hours of certified instructor accompanied driving, not unlike getting a pilot’s license, with repeated follow up exams every so many years. Exams that would probably take many elderly but influential voters off the road. AFAIK, most people still learn to drive from their parents, graduated licensing has raised the age of full fledged driving privelages but has done nothing for further education. Anyone who brings these ideas to the table is going to get voted out of office and/or lynched. This is why passive/reactionary saftey has become the way of the auto industry.

  • avatar
    matt

    But is it really asking that much to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel of a 3000lb or more peice of steel? I don’t think so. Don’t drive when you’re sleepy. Also, not hard. Maybe I just see this as another way for society to shirk an ever growing amount of responsibility and leave it up to someone else to take care of it for us. I admit that recertifying (that can’t be spelled right) one’s license every 5 years or so is a pain, but maybe its preferrable to having something that is as ridiculous (at least to me) as putting airbags in your hood.

    All I know is that generally the best way to solve a problem is to attack it at its core. And I think we can all agree that the core issue here isn’t unsafe car hoods.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    matt, tankdog, thank you for the interesting exchange of thoughts. I appreciate the civility of this discussion.

    I agree that it would be best if car drivers were more attentive and more respectful of the sanctity of human life. But why apply this thought only to pedestrian safety?

    If you think safety is only the responsibility of drivers, then you negate the exceptional progress in automotive safety technology we have seen over the past few decades. In other words, if car makers and traffic regulators had taken your advice around 1950 or so, then we’d be seeing a few hundred percent more deaths per year.

    As tankdog says, much stricter rules for drivers are not coming. Not in this decade, not in the next. The only practical response to this situation is to also apply technology, wherever it may be effective.

    One more thing. Safety technology in general aims to be “failure-tolerant”. In other words, it does not expect people to perform to 100% of their capability; it says that people make mistakes and perform 50%-70% correct.

    That’s the idea behind pedestrian protection technology: people (in particular children) screw up, but they shouldn’t have to die as a consequence.

    “Blame is for God and small children” (Dalton Trumbo, “Papillon”)

  • avatar
    matt

    I don’t think safety is the sole responsibility of the driver. But on this website, I’ve heard several times for calls for better driver education and stricter requirements. Not exceedingly strict, but stricter. But when we legislate into place a system that allows such irresponsible behavior, then the problem will just manifest itself again, only in a different fashion.

    And I think if regulators had taken my advice (i.e. up the standards of driver’s ed), we would still have ended up with airbags and traction control and a few other things.

    I guess my main point is that safety is fine, and I am glad for traction control, stability control, and air bags (in-car, that is…). But where should we draw the line as to where it stops becoming the responsibility of the auto manufacturers or the government, and we start stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘You know what, I could be a better driver. I could stop talking on the phone when I drive.’

    And to say that the only practical way to fix the problem is to apply technology is taking the easy way out. I can’t remember who said it, or really if anyone ever did, but its something that I firmly believe in, but ‘Nothing worth doing is ever easy’ or something to that effect.

  • avatar
    Anuerysm_Boy

    “Then there is the question of cost. If this technology costs a few hundred dollars per car, that is literally billions of dollars in cost passed along to the consumer.”

    Weakest. Argument. Ever. No, the cost passed along to each customer is a few hundred dollars. The US needs to stop making lame excuses for not getting serious about pedestrian safety…


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