The federal Government Accountability Office has been pressuring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop safety standards that would apply to motor vehicles in Florida and across the country. The standards would address what the GAO sees as a glaring gap in policy, pedestrian safety. The NHTSA requires automakers to meet certain safety standards for people who are inside the vehicles at the time of the crash, but has no requirements for the safety of pedestrians.
Internationally, there have been pedestrian safety standards in place since 2008, but the NHTSA chose not to include such standards in its updates that same year. The increasing popularity of SUVs and other larger vehicles represents a particular danger to pedestrians, as a pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle that is larger than average is 3.4 times more likely to be killed in the crash. This is because the pedestrian is more likely to be hit at the level of his or her neck or head.
The GAO has said that car manufacturers in the United States have been slow to implement technologies like pedestrian detection systems in new vehicles. The U.S. does not require crash mitigation alarms or pedestrian auto emergency brake systems, which could reduce the risk to pedestrians on the roads. These technologies are not perfect, though, with one study reporting that automatic braking prevented only approximately 38 percent of slow speed rear end crashes.
In cases where a pedestrian is injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, an attorney might be able to help. Injured parties may be entitled to recover for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or other damages. The families of those killed in pedestrian accidents may have claims for wrongful death. An attorney who practices personal injury law might help by gathering evidence and conducting depositions to build a case or by negotiating settlement with at-fault parties.