In Europe, legislation to improve the safety of pedestrians has been gaining strength over the years. Many vehicle manufacturers are starting to respond with safety features designed specifically for pedestrians.
The pedestrian statistics
Approximately 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States are pedestrians, and about 400 children per year are killed in pedestrian accidents. The majority of these deaths are from head injuries that happen when the pedestrian hits their head on the hood or windshield of the vehicle.
New pedestrian safety features
In response to statistics like this, European governments have started passing legislation intended to improve safety for pedestrians. Car makers have responded by improving safety features at the points of worst impact for pedestrians. Many vehicles are being introduced with smoother, more rounded hood and front grille designs that help reduce the impact on an individual’s head and body if there is an accident. Many vehicles are also being designed with accident-avoidance systems that will automatically stop a vehicle if it is on a collision course with a pedestrian.
Volvo introduces airbags
In an effort to continue improving security for pedestrians, Volvo has introduced a new exterior airbag system. Upon impact with a pedestrian, the back of the hood of the vehicle lifts a bit, and releases an airbag that covers the most common head impact zones on a vehicle’s windshield. The U-shaped airbag also leaves much of the view of the driver open, so the driver can safely steer and bring the vehicle to a stop as quickly as possible.
Passenger safety technology in the US
Though many of these safety improvements are being made in response to European safety laws, the improvements in safety technology are not entirely limited to European countries. Most of the safety developments, such as the Volvo exterior airbag, are being introduced at auto shows around the world. It will be several years before these developments are road-ready, and when they are, they will likely be introduced in the European countries that legally require the protections. It will likely be at least five years before the pedestrian-protection developments make it to the U.S. market and another 15 to 25 years before the majority of vehicles on the road have the new features.