How To Design Cars To Maim Instead of Kill Pedestrians


Globe and Mail

Sign this guy up for CSI! , Toronto police Supt. Earl Witty explains the link between all of the deaths in the War on Pedestrians: ""The only common thread between all of these deaths are they involved two things - vehicles and pedestrians." Yes, but it is the pedestrians who die.

But finally the car companies are beginning to look at how the design of cars can be adapted to make crashes less deadly. Nobody used to worry about this, and people were getting legs chopped off by popup headlights and impaled on grills and hood ornaments. SUVs are so high that it is like being hit by a moving wall.


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Peter Cheney in the Globe and Mail explains what car manufacturers are doing right now, measures that include thermal imaging to detect pedestrians, automatic computerized swerving (into another lane?) and even wiring up pedestrians with radio fobs so the car can detect them. But these things come at a cost:

Engineers have spent years studying what happens when a vehicle hits a pedestrian, and have come to several conclusions about how to minimize injury. Some of them, unfortunately, conflict with other objectives, such as fuel economy, structural strength and repair costs. A flat, relatively soft front bumper, for example, minimizes the force of an impact, but hurts fuel economy. This type of design is also opposed by insurance companies, because it's more costly to repair.

But the wildest is on the Porsche Panamera; when a pedestrian is hit, explosive bolts fire the hood up on an angle that acts both as a shock absorber and a ramp to let the victim sail over the roof of the car instead of into the windshield. But ultimately, as one engineer noted,

"You can make the cars safer," he said. "But this is really about the drivers."

see earlier Air Bags to Protect Those Outside the Car, Not In It

Volvo Makes A Car That Stops For Pedestrians (and Next, For Bikes)
Our Car-Centric Built Environment Is Killing Our Kids

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