NHTSA Wants Stricter Pedestrian Safety Requirements

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

nhtsa wants stricter pedestrian safety requirements

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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12 of 70 comments
  • Azfelix Azfelix 4 days ago

    I'm all for more robust pedestrian standards. Coincidentally one way of achieving this is through natural selection via collisions with automobiles.

    • See 2 previous
    • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts 3 days ago

      If you want people to give up driving (for either selfish or altruistic reasons) there are only two ways that research confirms it will happen:

      (1) make parking scarce and/or expensive, ideally on a trip-by-trip basis

      (2) make non-driving modes faster than driving

      The policies that will accomplish those goals are the following:

      • Build more train lines that are separated from traffic
      • Dedicate roadway space to transit (bus lanes) and bikes (protected bike lanes)
      • Don't build multi-car-lane streets in cities
      • Require parking to be paid for daily instead of monthly
      • Eliminate parking minimums in new construction; the advanced-level version of this policy is to cap total parking in a city Zurich-style
      • Build city centers instead of big-box stores, so people can walk to destinations without having to walk through hostile parking lots or cross huge roads

      Any attempt to get people out of cars that doesn't do one of the two things at the top is p!ssing in the wind.

  • David S. David S. 3 days ago

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

    • Jeff S Jeff S 3 days ago

      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 3 days ago

    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 2 days ago

      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 2 days ago

    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 2 days ago

      "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.