FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C) / Allison Kennedy / email@example.com / 360-281-7033 (C)
Statement from Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, on Pedestrian Safety Month (October 2021)
More than 6,000 pedestrians are being killed every year. Taking a walk should not be a death-defying experience. Proven solutions must be implemented to protect pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
A pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The grim totals were 6,205 pedestrians killed and an estimated 76,000 pedestrians injured. Moreover, the number of pedestrians killed on our roadways skyrocketed by more than fifty percent between 2009 and 2019. This Pedestrian Safety Month, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) is shining a spotlight on the need to implement proven countermeasures to protect pedestrians and other vulnerable road users (VRUs), especially as overall traffic fatalities also continue to rise.
Dangerous driving behaviors such as impaired, distracted and drowsy driving and speeding pose serious risks to pedestrians and other VRUs. This is particularly true at night, when the large majority (76 percent) of pedestrian fatalities occur, according to NHTSA. We call for the enactment of evidence-based traffic safety laws, advancement of vehicle safety technology, and upgrades to the safety of roadway environments, all of which comprise a Safe System approach to roadway safety.
Specifically, we urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take swift action to improve pedestrian safety including:
- Issue a final rule with requirements and performance standards for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning (LDW) and blind spot warning (BSW). Without this directive, auto manufacturers will continue to upcharge for these safety systems, an inequitable industry practice which also endangers everyone on the roads;
- Establish a standard for adaptive headlamps and update the current headlamp standard which was first issued more than fifty years ago to enhance performance and visibility; and,
- Implement critical improvements to hoods and bumpers to better protect VRUs in a crash.
These recommendations, among others, were included in the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) 2018 special report. Further, the NTSB added the protection of vulnerable road users through a Safe System approach to its 2021 – 2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The Safe System approach also incorporates road infrastructure upgrades to promote safety and mobility. Separated and protected bike lanes, pedestrian medians, pedestrian hybrid beacons or curb extensions, accessible sidewalks, speed curbing measures, leading intervals and other improvements will help to minimize conflicts with vehicles and better protect VRUs. These and other improvements are included in the Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium, convened by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy (JHCIRP) and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), to help address this public safety crisis.
Safe drivers and road users, safe vehicles, and safe roadways will reduce the intolerable death and injury toll. This Pedestrian Safety Month we must “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” of advancing these proven solutions.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to improve road safety in the U.S. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.