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Consumer Reports analysis finds automakers equipping many more new car models with pedestrian detection technology


  • Pedestrian detection safety systems come standard on 61% of new vehicle models in 2020, after being standard on just 38% in 2019
  • Greater adoption follows CR, IIHS scoring changes
  • Consumer Reports calls on auto industry to show further progress



WASHINGTON — Automakers are embracing life-saving innovation by making pedestrian safety systems come standard on a record number of cars, but more progress is needed, Consumer Reports said today upon releasing a new tally of vehicle models with these systems. The increase in adoption of pedestrian detection technology comes after both Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) set higher standards for pedestrian safety.


In February 2019, when pedestrian detection came standard on only 38% of new U.S. vehicle models, both Consumer Reports and IIHS announced plans to emphasize pedestrian safety in their scoring. Manufacturers are rising to the challenge, and now 61% of 2020 models come with pedestrian detection standard to go along with automatic emergency braking (AEB).


“Increasing the availability of pedestrian detection is a critical part of making our roads safer for everyone. That’s why CR set the bar higher in our scoring, and why we’re glad to see automakers stepping up,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.


“Pedestrian detection has immense life-saving potential, and its protection should not be treated as a luxury,” said Ethan Douglas, senior policy analyst for cars and product safety at Consumer Reports, who points out that the technology continues to improve in effectiveness. “Even with the progress in the last year, too many vehicle models still have pedestrian detection available only as a pricey upgrade option. Proven safety features should be standard, period.”


Consumer Reports’ announcement in February 2019 included that pedestrian detection would factor into a vehicle’s overall score as a part of CR’s ratings, and that the technology would need to be included as a standard feature across all trims for a vehicle model to be in the running for a Top Pick designation going forward. The same month, IIHS also strengthened its testing standards, and now requires a vehicle to get an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention, including a vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation, to be named a Top Safety Pick.


Pedestrian fatalities increased 53 percent between 2009 and 2018. A new report from the Government Accountability Office identified AEB with pedestrian detection as a technology that could help slow this trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the country’s primary auto safety regulator, does not yet include pedestrian safety tests as part of its five-star safety rating program or federal motor vehicle safety standards. IIHS, a non-governmental organization, tests vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention capabilities and bases its safety awards in part on performance in this evaluation.


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Contact: David Butler, 202-579-7935, david.butler@consumer.org


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