In 2010, Louisiana recorded 77 pedestrian deaths in vehicular crashes statewide. Fast forward a mere eight years to 2018 and the state experienced 164 pedestrian fatalities in a single year. These statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlight a serious problem seen not only in Louisiana but echoed around the nation. More pedestrians are dying and several factors contribute to this grim reality.

According to a report by The Verge, the nation’s total pedestrian fatality count in 2018 was the highest on record since the early 1990s. This increase comes even as more new vehicles are rolling off manufacturer and dealer lots equipped with features designed to reduce accidents and improve safety. These features may be helping some people, but not pedestrians. Between 2017 and 2018, the total number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents across the United States declined by 3.4%. In that same year, pedestrian deaths increased by 2.4%.

In-vehicle infotainment systems are just one of many distractions faced by drivers today that may open the door to more dangers for pedestrians. Another issue people on foot must contend with is the continued infatuation American drivers have with their sport utility vehicles. When these larger vehicles hit a pedestrian, the impact is more likely to be in the torso where vital organs are or even in the head. When a sedan hits a pedestrian, the primary impact may be in the legs.

Some studies have evaluated automotive manufacturer’s features for detecting pedestrians and automatically braking to avoid hitting them. Sadly, these systems failed more than not in tests.