Alarming spike in pedestrian deaths

U.S. & World

(NBC) – A man darts into traffic and is lucky to be alive, but a growing number of pedestrians aren’t as lucky. A new National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report shows an alarming spike in pedestrian deaths, which have increased every year since 2009.

Now, there’s an average of 16 killed each day.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt says, “We’re up to nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities each year in the U.S., and that’s a figure that we have to drive down.”

The NTSB detailed eleven recommendations in the report, calling on regulators to update standards so the industry can utilize vehicle technology that could better protect pedestrians.

Says Sumwalt, “We actually found we need better headlights believe it or not.”

Federal rules have blocked adaptive beam headlights that automatically adjust to help drivers see better, but they are legal and commonplace in Europe, where pedestrian fatalities have dropped by 40% over the past decade.

“Newer headlight standards are necessary,” says Sumwalt, “Since about three quarters of the fatalities of the pedestrians occur at night.”

Official reports focused mainly on vehicle and regulatory improvements, saying more research has to be done to determine the cause of the increase in pedestrian deaths.

Sumwalt adds, “We have to do something.”

The NTSB hopes shining a light on car safety technology and outdated regulations will do just that.

The NTSB also recommended design changes to hoods and bumpers to reduce pedestrian injuries when hit, and a recommendation that pedestrian safety be part of new car safety ratings.

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