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Pedestrian safety standards need improvement

Pedestrian safety standards need improvement

| Apr 30, 2020 | Firm News |

There were 6,283 pedestrians, 17 each day, killed by cars and trucks in this country in 2018. But the US General Accounting Office recently concluded that government regulators took insufficient steps to enact safety standards that could protect pedestrians and help avoid some of these fatal personal injury accidents.

Any vehicle driving at a high speed is dangerous and the GAO reported that most crashes occur with a car traveling at 31 mph or higher. But car design plays a role in whether a pedestrian dies in a crash at lower speeds.

First, the overall vehicle’s size and weight is important because greater size causes more injury. A pedestrian has a 3.4 times greater likelihood of being killed if they are hit by a pickup truck or sports utility vehicle according to a 1998 study financed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

An SUV or a truck is more likely to hit a pedestrians higher on their body and knock them over. This increases the danger of running that person over.

Unfortunately, more of these larger vehicles are on the nation’s roads. Pickups, SUVs and other light trucks went from 57 percent of the new vehicle market in 2015 to 73 percent in 2019. Three out of four new vehicles sold in this country were several times more likely to cause a pedestrian fatality.

Secondly, design features play a role in the crash. These include bumper height and   material in the bumper. The hood’s capacity to compress and serve as a cushion is also important.

The GAO reported that the NHTSA had done little to impose requirements or provide incentives to make vehicle designs’ safer. Regulations on bumpers only restrict damage to the car’s body and do not protect anyone who can be struck by the vehicle. No regulations require installation of hoods to better protect pedestrians.

The NHTSA’s new car assessment program that rates new cars only involves vehicle occupants. It does not assess the safety of anyone outside the car.

The United States agreed to the United Nation’s standards for absorption capabilities on bumpers and hoods to help mitigate pedestrian injuries in 2008. Nonetheless, the NHTSA never fully implemented these standards.

Pedestrians can face serious injuries because they have virtually no protection. An attorney can help assure that they can pursue compensation for these injuries.