Inside the brewing fight over pedestrian safety

Automakers are asking federal safety regulators to reconsider a rule mandating better automatic braking technology, even as pedestrian deaths remain stubbornly high.

U.S. drivers struck and killed more than 35,000 people in the last five years, finds a Governors Highway Safety Association report out today. Most such fatalities occurred at night and involved large trucks or SUVs…

Pedestrian deaths rose a staggering 77% between 2010 and 2022, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, while all other traffic fatalities increased just 22%…
Most new cars have automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, which use cameras and radar to detect an imminent crash and apply the brakes if the driver fails to do so.

While the technology has significant safety benefits, studies have shown that it’s ineffective in avoiding pedestrian crashes at night or at high speeds.
Congress in 2021 directed NHTSA to make AEB technology standard on all passenger vehicles and to establish minimum performance standards, including pedestrian protection.

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