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Up until last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did not consider pedestrian crashes when testing the safety of new cars. That has since changed. Beginning early last year, pedestrian crashes were added to the mix. The decision to add them was not pulled out of thin air.
The IIHS conducted a study in 2018 to determine how frequently pedestrians were injured and killed by cars. They discovered something alarming: deaths resulting from pedestrian crashes were at their highest point since 1990. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in 2017 after being hit by cars.
A surprised IIHS decided it was time to begin testing new cars in order to learn if automatic braking systems are capable of protecting pedestrians. That’s just what they began to do last year.
Cars are tested with no fewer than half-a-dozen simulated crashes. Perhaps you’ve seen the videos. Technicians outfit a car with a range of sensors and computer equipment, then send the car crashing into some sort of barrier. Then they analyze the results.
To measure pedestrian safety, they propel cars toward a stationary object and measure how well self-braking systems perform. The hope is that the tested vehicles will not come into contact with the simulated pedestrian. And if contact is made, it’s hoped that damage is minimal.
Some may think that simulating pedestrian crashes is overkill. But think of this: it wouldn’t even be possible without automatic braking systems. New technology designed to increase safety now makes it possible to avoid pedestrian collisions altogether. That’s what the IIHS is hoping to accomplish with their tests.
What do you think? Would you be more inclined to buy a car with a high pedestrian safety rating? Now you can.