There are nearly 6,000 pedestrian traffic fatalities every year, yet recent testing of pedestrian detection systems found that when encountering a child at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time, according to AAA.
Commercial fleets should be aware of the limitations of the technology and caution drivers to always stay focused and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
The new research from AAA determined that pedestrian detection systems were challenged in a number of additional simulated scenarios. For example, when encountering two adults alongside the road at 20 mph, a collision occurred 80% of the time. Moreover, when encountering an adult immediately after a right-hand turn, none of the test vehicles avoided a collision with the pedestrian or mitigated the impact speed.
Night driving can be particularly difficult for fleet drivers and they should be warned never to rely solely on technology for spotting cyclists or people on foot.
In fact, the research showed that when encountering an adult crossing the road at night, pedestrian detection systems were ineffective.
Overall, the systems performed best in the instance of an adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day. In this case, the systems avoided a collision 40% of the time. But, at the higher speed of 30 mph, only one test vehicle avoided collision with the pedestrian in two out of five runs.
AAA concludes that pedestrian detection systems still need significant improvement. Fleet managers should advise drivers to always be aware of their immediate surroundings and never depend on pedestrian detection systems to prevent a crash. This technology should only serve as a backup and not a replacement for an engaged driver, notes AAA.
Pedestrian fatalities account for 16% of all traffic deaths annually, a percentage that has steadily grown since 2010.