Pedestrians naturally experience a greater level of risk in a collision with a vehicle than a driver or others in the vehicle due to the lack of protection around them. That, however, should not make it acceptable for the number of pedestrian deaths to increase when more new vehicles come equipped with advanced safety features designed to prevent collisions with foot traffic.
Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that pedestrian fatalities have jumped nationally and in Wisconsin in recent years.
Pedestrian deaths in the U.S.
Consumer Reports notes that in 2009, just over 4,100 people on foot were killed in vehicle crashes. In 2017, that number rose to nearly 6,000.
Pedestrian deaths in Wisconsin
Across Wisconsin, pedestrians also face a growing risk on the road. In 2013, 37 pedestrians died across the state, representing 6.8% of all vehicular fatalities that year. Five years later, in 2018, the state recorded 56 pedestrian fatalities. The 2018 pedestrian deaths accounted for 9.5% of all accident deaths in Wisconsin.
Advanced vehicle technologies fail pedestrians
AAA conducted a study to determine if pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems in vehicles actually prevented or mitigated pedestrian collisions. The group declared these features completely ineffective at night, when the majority of all pedestrian fatalities occur.
During the daytime, test vehicles driving a mere 20 miles per hour still hit adult pedestrian dummies directly in front of them in six out of 10 scenarios. Results were even less positive when child-sizes pedestrian dummies were used, when speeds increased to 30 miles per hour or when pedestrian dummies were on the side of the road.