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Pedestrian Safety - Report to Congress

August 2008

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2. The Role of Advanced Technologies

In this report, the term "advanced technology" refers to new technologies that are infrastructure-based (existing exclusively as part of the roadway) or vehicle-based. Their purpose is to warn drivers about the presence of pedestrians and enable pedestrians to walk more safely in areas that may or may not be designated specifically for pedestrian use. If properly integrated, these technologies can complement traditional safety strategies and help reduce pedestrian fatalities and incapacitating injuries. Tables 1 and 2 provide summaries of pedestrian crash problems and advanced technology strategies for each of the scenarios as well as the technology's stage of development.

The development of highway-based technologies is led by government (predominantly Federal and State) organizations. Vehicle-based technologies are developed by the private sector with government (predominantly Federal) involvement in coordination, basic research, and standards development. Many of the infrastructure-based and vehicle-based advanced technologies have the potential to undergo deployment within the next 10 years.

Technologies must progress through several stages between conceptualization and deployment. The first of these steps is concept validation, in which it is determined that a concept has the potential to resolve the problem. Once this is determined, the technology enters the developmental phase, in which a critical assessment of the technology is performed on a prototype or experimental system. The developmental phase is followed by the pre-deployment phase, which involves evaluating and validating the effectiveness of the technology. Once the pre-deployment stage proves that the technology is valid and effective, the technology is then ready for the full deployment phase.

Most of the potentially successful advanced technology strategies identified in tables 1 and 2 are in the pre-deployment or the developmental stages and require additional technological analyses and advances before widespread deployment can occur.

Table 1: Infrastructure-Based Advanced Technology
Pedestrian Crash Problem Advanced Technology Strategy Stage of Development
Pedestrian crossing intersection or roadway – General Passive sensors to recognize pedestrians and activate pedestrian assistance and/or warning systems

Pre-Deployment Phase

Developmental Phase

Signalized intersection crossing Pedestrian countdown signal Deployment Phase
Signalized intersection crossing –Pedestrian struck by through vehicles Automatic extension of the walk signal Pre-Deployment Phase
Signalized intersection crossing – Pedestrians struck by turning vehicles Pedestrian scramble activation, pedestrian head start phasing Pre-Deployment Phase
Signalized intersection crossing –Right turn on red collisions Pedestrian-activated no right turn on red LED signs or red light arrow Developmental Phase
Mid-block crossing and unsignalized intersection crossings. Automated detection and activation of in-pavement crosswalk lighting, overhead lighting, LED warning signs for oncoming drivers, variable speed limit signs, and high-intensity crosswalk signals. Pre-Deployment Phase
Deployment Phase
Pedestrian crashes on Interstates and freeways Night pedestrian recognition systems Concept Validation Phase

Table 2: Vehicle-Based Advanced Technology
Pedestrian Crash Problem Advanced Technology Strategy Stage of Development
Pedestrian injury severity Vehicle front-end design to reduce pedestrian injuries in crashes, vehicle parking aids, in-vehicle pedestrian sensors Pre-Deployment Phase*
Pedestrian night crashes Night vision in vehicles capable of identifying pedestrians on the road Pre-Deployment and Deployment Phase
*Note: Two automobile manufacturers (Honda and Mazda) have deployed vehicles with bumpers and hoods designed to reduce pedestrian injury severity, but this is not yet a widespread industry practice.

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