Car safety systems don’t see pedestrians well in the dark

Car safety systems don't see pedestrians well in the dark 1

Many automatic braking systems that automakers use to prevent cars from hitting pedestrians do not work well in the dark, according to test results published on Tuesday by the American non-profit Insurance Institute for Road Safety.

The group, backed by the insurance industry, said 12 of the 23 sedans, mid-size SUVs, and small pickups it evaluated received a “basic” rating or no credit at all because they failed to adequately detect or slow down a mannequin pedestrian overnight tests. According to the IIHS, about three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur at night.

According to CSN-TV, starting from the 2023 model year, the IIHS will require that cars receive an “excellent” or “advanced” rating in the new pedestrian detection test at night, and only after that the final “Top Safety Pick +” rating can be awarded to the model. Automakers are seeking top marks from the IIHS, as well as from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The IIHS is paying particular attention to pedestrian detection technology as the number of pedestrian fatalities hit by vehicles increases dramatically on U.S. highways. According to federal data, in 2021, the number of pedestrian deaths increased to 7,342 people, which is 13% more than a year earlier and 80% more than in 2009.

There are no state tests or performance standards for automatic braking systems with pedestrian detection yet. According to IIHS President David Harkey, there are no federal requirements for night testing of such systems. The IIHS found large differences in system performance both between competing automakers and between different models sold by the same automaker.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder was rated “excellent”, while the company’s Altima sedan did not receive a “credit” in the IIHS tests. In a statement, Nissan said that “the results of the latest IIHS tests are still being evaluated, including the difference in results in combination with the characteristics of the equipped headlights.”

Volkswagen said in a statement that the cars tested by the IIHS use only radar.

Toyota said its Tacoma pickup truck, rated “not a credit” in the IIHS test, is not equipped with a system that can detect pedestrians at night. Toyota Highlander and Camry were rated “excellent” and have more advanced pedestrian detection technology. Toyota has not commented on the IIHS testing method.

According to the IIHS, 8 out of 12 cars that received low, “basic” or “non-credit” ratings in the night test had systems that received a “high” or “extended” rating in the daytime tests.