In recent years we have seen a tragic rise in pedestrian fatalities on our nation's roadways. Public awareness campaigns and enforcement can only go so far in stemming the tide — we must embrace innovative technologies to prevent crashes and reverse this trend.
This is why we are forming the Lidar Coalition, a global group of companies that, through U.S. policy advocacy, is dedicated to deployment of lifesaving technology that has the most potential to prevent harm to vulnerable road users.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. jumped by 46 percent to 6,516 in 2020 from 4,457 in 2011. Even more alarming, the most recent statistics from NHTSA project that 42,915 people died on U.S. roadways in 2021, the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the highest annual percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 13 percent over 2020, which outpaced the 10.5% increase in overall fatalities.
In exploring the cause of this trend, we can look at two factors. First, an analysis of pedestrian fatalities by state breaks down the time of day these tragedies occur. Seventy-five percent of pedestrian deaths happen in low-light conditions, such as dusk and nightfall. Second, a new report from NHTSA points to risky driving behavior such as speeding, alcohol impairment and other behaviors as responsible for 45 percent of all fatal crashes.
It is evident that to protect vulnerable road users, we should pursue solutions that — among other benefits — are optimized for dark conditions and do not rely solely on the behavior of human drivers.