We face a pedestrian safety crisis on our roads today. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated 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 recorded history of data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Pedestrian fatalities also increased by 13% over 2020, which outpaced the 10.5% increase in overall fatalities.
In May of 2022, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report finding that in 2021, pedestrian fatalities increased significantly and reached their highest level in 40 years, with a staggering 76% of these fatalities occurring at night.2 This tragic rise is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, vehicle safety technologies currently in use have the potential drastically to reduce fatalities, but this potential is tied to whether the technology is optimized for pedestrian detection during low-light conditions.
Traffic management systems using lidar have the potential to not only make traffic signaling more efficient, but also to improve safety. Warning signs that flash when there is an obstruction in the road due to a work zone or other issues can be connected to lidar sensors which detect the potential obstruction.
Additionally, unlike other traffic management systems, lidar based systems operate with equal capability at night, further increasing safety of vulnerable road users at intersections by detecting the individual and timing lights or warnings accordingly.
1 NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION, EARLY ESTIMATE OF MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC FATALITIES AND FATALITY RATE BY SUB-CATEGORIES IN 2021 (2022).
2 GOVERNORS HIGHWAY SAFETY ASSOCIATION, PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC FATALITIES BY STATE 2021 PRELIMINARY DATA (2022).