Ford has introduced Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection technology, where a windshield mounted camera, “taught to classify different vehicle and pedestrian scenarios and designed to work at up to 80km/h, works alongside radar located near the bumper, picking up shape reflections and feeding data into a unique Ford algorithm.” It will beep and warn the driver of a collision, and if the driver doesn’t do anything, will apply the brakes. That seems like a good idea, although going 80 on a street with pedestrians probably isn’t.
But when you see the ad, which has...”pedestrians,” people yelling into phones, mothers letting go of baby carriages, crazy jugglers, kids taking selfies, every stereotype you can think of. It is supposed to be funny. It notes that “one pedestrian is injured every 8 minutes in a motor vehicle crash” but doesn’t note that 63 percent of them are caused by distracted drivers. Instead it seems to imply that everyone out on the road and not in a car is distracted or nuts.It is almost as if these devices are acting as an invitation to drivers to use their phones; hey, if the car is going to detect a distracted petextrian, then I don't have to worry about what I am doing, do I?
Then there is this from Dodge Ram, with the tag line Come see what Domination looks like. Alas it is not an invitation to watch Pinky and the Brain, and is not even all that bad, given that this truck actually did dominate a competition among big pickups, doing big pickup stuff like hauling loads and going down seriously rough roads in the country, where these belong.
But the way the photo was taken from wheel level looking up, the design of that front end, they are all chosen to sell an image of…domination. And as we have noted, those trucks, that do not have to meet standards for pedestrian safety, are really deadly. We have quoted the New Scientist before:
Making SUVs [and pickups] less dangerous to pedestrians will require radical changes to their design. “One way to reduce head injuries from SUV impacts would be to replace the blunt front end with a sloping, more aerodynamic one, making them more car-like. But this won’t be popular with SUV buyers who like their rugged, off-road look,” [engineer Clay] Gabler says.
Finally there is this one that we have showed before, that starts with the sentence "we can't create a world without accidents." First of all we can, it's called Vision Zero. The driver cannot keep her eyes on the road and more importantly, cannot see the kid running out in front of her car because a) she is distracted and b) the hood of her car is taller than the kid. Should she, or this vehicle, be on the road? I don't think so.
Perhaps if the road was filled with lower, slower cars with sloping hoods so that drivers can see what is in front of the, that are designed to reduce fatalities and injuries, we might be better off. That's why we have said Make SUVs and light trucks as safe as cars or get rid of them.