Everyone’s been a pedestrian at some point. Staying safe on the street seems relatively easy, but can be a challenge at times. Fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians, with half being hit and run classified accidents. There are growing concerns for pedestrian safety, and today's technology is stepping up to the plate from both driver and pedestrian perspectives.
Pedestrian Airbag Technology
A major goal of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities by equipping cars with external airbags. Sensors detect an impact and trigger the hood hinge release and pedestrian airbag inflator, deflecting the pedestrian away from the wind shield and frame, reducing velocity of impact and severity of injury.
Pre-Collision System Technology
The Pre-Collision System (PCS) with pedestrian avoidance and steering assist is being added in more and more new cars. Sensors detect a pedestrian in the path of danger and set off an audio/visual alarm. More sensors detect the vehicle's proximity to other traffic and determine whether braking alone will avoid an impact. If it is safe to steer away from the pedestrian, and PCS will provide steering assistance to avoid collision.
The Kapten Plus GPS system is a voice activated GPS for blind or visually impaired pedestrians. It helps navigate streets, locates destinations, gives audio directions, and saves routes and destinations.
In larger cities, it can be integrated with public transportation mapping and scheduling systems.
Passive Pedestrian Sensors are pads placed on walkways to detect the presence of pedestrians. They can trigger lighting for pedestrian safety at night, and trigger traffic control signals, prohibiting vehicles from turning into pedestrian traffic.
They can be used in conjunction with countdown systems to let pedestrians know how much time they have to get across the street.
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
RRFBs are LED lights that are set into the pavement at crosswalks. The lights flash in an irregular pattern to attract the attention of drivers. Additional signage warns of the crossing zone in advance.
Raised Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Islands
Most hit and run accidents involving pedestrians occur while crossing streets. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has implemented the use of raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands which make pedestrians more visible to drivers and vice versa. Pedestrian islands allow the pedestrian to cross one lane at a time, decreasing vulnerability.
Now, if we can just do away with texting while driving and walking, the world will be a much safer place!