NHTSA Wants Stricter Pedestrian Safety Requirements

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety occasionally update their safety testing protocols to keep up with changes in technology and the auto industry. The IIHS recently updated its side-crash tests with greater impact forces, and now, the NHTSA is considering a toughening of its pedestrian crash testing.

The NHTSA said the updates would measure pedestrian protection and detection and has asked for public comment on the matter. More pedestrians are dying on our roads, with 3,434 people killed in the first six months of last year – almost 19 deaths per day. The IIHS already has a test for day- and nighttime pedestrian crash prevention, so it’s not surprising to see the NHTSA add the criteria to its list.

NHTSA officials said that the organization is working on rules to make automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and other features mandatory for new vehicles. The NHTSA noted that 20 automakers have committed to equipping at least 95 percent of cars and trucks, but more needs to be done.

The IIHS’ recent updates knocked several vehicles out of contention for a Top Safety Pick award, so we’ll likely see a similar shift when the NHTSA implements these proposed changes. Despite their sometimes annoying alerts, advanced driver aids have been proven to save lives, so it’s time for the rules to change.

[Image: Ground Picture via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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9 of 55 comments
  • David S. David S. on May 25, 2023

    All valid points, I believe Art said it best, people lost in their phones oblivious to their surroundings.

    • Jeff S Jeff S on May 25, 2023

      Lorenzo--Agree pedestrians should be taught about safety and being aware of vehicular traffic. I as well had a police office give that same talk to my elementary school. Maybe that talk should be given to adults as well.

  • Punkairwaves Punkairwaves on May 25, 2023

    I've seen plenty of bad behavior by both drivers and pedestrians. It's time to get serious about enforcing traffic and jaywalking laws.

    • Zerofoo Zerofoo on May 26, 2023

      I would also like to see bike lanes (and their use) be made mandatory on some types of roads. Mixing low-speed, lightweight, two-wheel vehicles with high-speed heavy vehicles is asking for trouble. Speed doesn't necessarily kill - speed differential does.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on May 26, 2023

    COVID should have been the warning shot to city planners - high-density living spaces for humans carry health risks. Communicable respiratory disease and pedestrian hazards are two hazards of humans living racked and stacked on top of each other.

    If you want to save lives, planning boards need to look at capping residential density in very dense urban environments.

    Blaming cars for unsustainable increases in residential density is not the solution.

    • See 2 previous
    • Zerofoo Zerofoo on May 26, 2023

      "Denser areas didn't have any higher infection rates than others". I worked throughout the pandemic - my work takes me to cities constantly. Cities may not have had worse infection rates - but the financial impact to COVID seemed way worse in cities. Life seemed to go on pretty well in the suburbs and rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all. Many cities still have not recovered from the lockdowns necessitated by the density of cities. I stand by my point - Cities are vulnerable to all kinds of problems due to their density.

  • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts on May 29, 2023

    "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."

    I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.

    No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.

    Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.