Car manufacturers are constantly looking at ways to improve safety in their vehicles. Through the addition of seat belts and air bags, as well as crumple zones reinforced passenger compartments, cars today are much safer than their predecessors. These new safety innovations have been designed to protects occupants within a vehicle in the event of a collision, but until recently, little thought has been directed towards those outside of a car. When a car hits a pedestrian, the results can be catastrophic and often result in the pedestrian losing his or her life. This has been true for decades but if some auto manufacturers have their say, it might not be for long.
Facing a pedestrian death toll of over 4,000 every year, Honda and Volvo have both begun the process of analyzing their vehicles and considering exterior design changes that may help a pedestrian survive a crash. When a standard car strikes a walker, the pedestrian is often thrown up on the hood of the car and then onto the windshield. Most pedestrians are thrown forward again as the car breaks, resulting in the pedestrian striking the ground. Others are thrown to the side of the hood or even over the roof to land on the far side of the car, depending on the speed and type of the vehicle, the position of the pedestrian, and the actions of the driver.
Different companies are experimenting with different safety items. For example, Honda and Acura have been using fenders detached from the car frame on their vehicles since 2008. The engines are likewise separate from the vehicle hoods. The idea is that having these pieces separate may provide some extra cushioning when an accident occurs and that any added cushioning will increase the odds that a pedestrian will survive after being hit. Instead of the impact pitting the pedestrian’s body against the entire frame of the car, which is heavy, large, solid, and can be unyielding, the pedestrian strikes a detached fender which is more willing to bend and distort, absorbing the impact.
Other companies, like General Motors, are including a pocket of space between the engine and the hood. Like the detached components, the idea is that this extra space will provide a cushion so that the impact of the pedestrian’s body will be absorbed by the hood and the hood will have space to bend and distort before reaching the engine. If it works as designed, many pedestrians who would otherwise have struck car engines will be stopped at the hood, increasing the chance for survival.
One of the more interesting and unique ideas being promoted comes from Volvo and is not currently available in the United States. It is an airbag on the windshield that deploys upon impact. The airbag is designed to prevent a pedestrian’s head from striking the solid windshield or windshield wipers and to provide a safe cushion instead. Since one of the major causes of pedestrian deaths are head injuries, if successful, this windshield airbag may drastically increase safety across the globe.
Though vehicle manufacturers are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety, the most important factor remains the conduct of the driver and of the pedestrian. When safety is the focus of both parties, accidents are much less likely to occur and injuries less likely to result.
Unfortunately pedestrians are still injured and killed every year in Illinois. If you have been hurt or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident with a car, call the Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free case consultation. At Abels & Annes, P.C., our clients matter to us and we work hard to get each client the recovery they deserve. We make ourselves available when it is convenient to you and this includes the no obligation telephone call. You can reach our experienced personal injury lawyers 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (312) 924-7575. We also offer free in-home and in-hospital consultations for those who want to meet with us in person but are too injured to travel to our offices. Call us today and let us help you.
Prior Blog Entries:
Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyers File Three Additional Lawsuits Against the Chicago Archdiocese regarding Daniel McCormack, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 2, 2013.
Chicago Motorcycle Lawyers Settle Case for $100,000, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 1, 2013.
Honda, Volvo lead design changes to help protect pedestrians in an accident, by Angela Greiling Keane, thedailystar.com/Bloomberg News, published July 2, 2013.