Pennsylvania's Growing Pedestrian Risks

Residents in Pennsylvania may frequently see or hear ads touting advanced safety features on new vehicles. Many of these features aim to prevent pedestrian collisions or reduce the severity of injuries in accidents.

Unfortunately, it seems the technologies that power these advanced safety features have a long way to go before they may ever achieve their goal.

Study highlights lack of technology effectiveness

The consumer group AAA conducted a study that evaluated the effectiveness of pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems together in multiple new vehicle models. The study included adult- and child-sized pedestrian dummies and crash test vehicles. Test vehicles driving at a mere 30 miles per hour with good, daytime visibility still managed to hit the adult pedestrian dummies walking directly in front of the vehicles in 60% of the test cases.

Tests involving adult dummies in different positions, such as on the side of the road, resulted in even worse outcomes as did tests involving child-sized pedestrian dummies. When test vehicles operated in dark conditions, AAA found the results so poor that the systems were rated as completely ineffective. Sadly, the majority of pedestrian fatalities occur at night.

Pennsylvania sees spike in pedestrian fatalities

In 2009, Pennsylvania experienced 134 pedestrian deaths across the state, representing 10.7% of the state’s total vehicular fatalities for that year. In 2014, a total of 161 people on foot were killed in auto accidents, accounting for 13.5% of all accident deaths statewide. In 2018, pedestrians represented 16.6% of all people who died in vehicle crashes in Pennsylvania. That year, 197 pedestrian lives were lost.