FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2022
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on New Research Showing Large Passenger Vehicle Dangers to Pedestrians in Intersections
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) findings underscore the need for a comprehensive approach to vulnerable road user safety.
Today the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new study showing that sport utility vehicles (SUVs), pickups, vans and minivans are substantially more likely than cars to hit pedestrians when making turns. Vehicle size and design are cited as potential contributors to these findings.
Walking across the street should not be a death-defying act. The data presented by IIHS strengthens the case for adoption of the Safe System Approach to protect pedestrians and other vulnerable road users (VRUs), especially given trends in the U.S. passenger fleet toward larger vehicles and the historically high number of pedestrians killed in 2020, 6,500. An additional 54,700 pedestrians were injured that same year. The National Transportation Safety Board included this action in its 2021 – 2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Roadside Safety Strategy deems it the core of the plan.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety urges the U.S. DOT, Congress, and state and local elected officials to take the following actions to reduce pedestrian and VRU fatalities, all of which are components of the Safe System Approach:
- U.S. DOT: Upgrade vehicle safety by requiring proven crash avoidance technology in all new vehicles, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) which detects pedestrians and other VRUs, alerts the driver, and prevents or mitigates a collision when a crash is imminent. DOT issuing minimum safety standards will ensure the technology performs as expected and needed.
- U.S. DOT: Issue federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) which require hoods and bumpers to be more forgiving to pedestrians and other VRUs when crashes occur.
- U.S. DOT: Improve the headlight standard by increasing visibility and decreasing glare, as required in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58), and require adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlamps. Seventy-six (76) percent of pedestrian fatalities happened when it was dark out in 2019, according to NHTSA.
- Congress: Remove all prohibitions on the use of federal grant funds for automated enforcement. The IIJA allows for the use of these funds for automated enforcement in work and school zones.
- State and local officials: Adopt roadway design, maintenance and building practices that better protect pedestrians through speed-calming measures, infrastructure safety upgrades, and signage to keep drivers alert.
- State and local officials: Expand use of automated enforcement systems to curb speeding and improve safety, resist efforts to increase speed limits and move away from adhering to the 85th percentile in speed limit setting.
As IIHS notes in its new study, pedestrian crash deaths have increased nearly every year since 2009 and rose by nearly 60 percent from 2009 to 2020. Especially considering the majority of pedestrian fatalities (73 percent) occur outside of intersections, our nation’s leaders need to step up their efforts to make our roadways safer for walking, rolling, biking, e-scootering and using other micromobility products.
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 make America’s roads safer. 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.