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New auto safety systems do little to protect pedestrians

The number of people killed on the roads in Louisiana and around the country fell slightly in 2018 according to a set of figures released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sadly, the news was far from good for the country's most vulnerable road users. The number of pedestrians killed after being struck by a motor vehicle rose by 3.4% to 6,283 in 2018, and cyclist fatalities climbed by an even more alarming 6.3% to 857. The pedestrian death toll in 2018 was the highest since 1990 according to NHTSA.

Pedestrian deaths are rising despite significant advances in automobile safety technology. Many new vehicles are equipped with sophisticated electronic systems that are designed to detect pedestrians and cyclists and brake automatically to prevent a collision. However, tests have revealed that these systems are often ineffective. After putting pedestrian alert and automatic emergency braking systems to the test on a closed course, the American Automobile Association found that pedestrians in the roadway were struck 60% of the time even when the vehicles being tested were driven in ideal conditions and at only 20 mph.

These systems are even less reliable at night, which is when the vast majority of fatal pedestrian accidents take place. The AAA tests revealed automatic safety systems to be virtually useless in the dark. NHTSA says that it plans to revise its crash-testing protocols to make them more effective at determining how pedestrians and cyclists would fare in a collision.

Personal injury attorneys may file wrongful death lawsuits against negligent motorists who strike and kill pedestrians or cyclists. Individuals who lose loved ones in motor vehicle accidents are often left financially vulnerable by the loss of a breadwinner's paycheck, and attorneys may seek compensation for their lost income as well as hospital and funeral expenses.

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