It would be fair to say that there is no such thing as a good car to get run over by. Most people, understandably, would prefer to avoid this situation completely. It is also reasonable to say that the idea of pedestrian safety is hardly the sexiest motoring topic, and not the first thing that comes to a drivers mind when they get behind the wheel of a Ferrari, Lamorghini, Porsche, or even their mum’s Hyundai i30.
But joking aside, if you take time to consider the risks involved with being a pedestrian, the reality is that it can be rather dangerous. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads every year, with this figure accounting for 22% of the total 1.24 million road traffic deaths.
Clearly we cannot afford to be too blasé about the possibility of being injured as a pedestrian.
While being struck by a big lump of metal travelling at high speed is going to be dangerous for any pedestrian, manufacturers have gone to significant lengths in order to improve vehicle safely. While this has traditionally focused on ensuring that drivers and passengers within a vehicle are protected, there are also measures that can be taken in order to improve pedestrian safety, should the worst happen.
Central to this process is the design of the front of a car. Of course, pedestrians are still in danger if they are struck by a car, but building the front of a vehicle to ensure that it is pliable and less rigid than was the case in previous designs can have a surprisingly large impact on pedestrian safety.
Modifying a vehicle in order to ensure that it protects pedestrians tends to centre around the crush depth between the outer surface of the vehicle and hard objects underneath. It is also possible to tweak the stiffness of the vehicle's structure below its surface, in order to ensure that an impact can absorb as much energy as possible, and thus minimising injury.
So which cars have scored well in terms of their ability to protect pedestrians? Well, here are the top three performers in the Euro NCAP ratings - intended to document the safest cars on the road for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.
The Toyota Hilux pickup outperformed all-comers in the NCAP ratings, scoring 83%. Assessors particularly praised the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Control included in this vehicle. When the possibility of a collision with a pedestrian is detected, drivers of the Toyota Hilux are alerted with audio and visual warnings and brake assistance is activated automatically. A neat system that contributed to its high rating.
This aspirational vehicle can also be considered a safe one, scoring 77% in the pedestrian protection category. Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE system has the ability to detect from the way that the car is driven whether a possible accident is imminent.
Other safety features are also built into the vehicle, with Mercedes boasting of “smooth-surfaced bodies, energy-absorbing bumpers, flush-mounted door handles, laminated-glass windscreens, folding exterior mirrors and recessed windscreen wipers” all making a contribution to pedestrian safety.
Mercedes also notes that fitting a brake assist system as standard in its vehicles has reduced the collisions between pedestrians and Mercedes cars by 13%.
Scoring 75% in the pedestrian protection category, the Subaru Levorg estate was another vehicle that impressed surveyors. The Japanese car manufacturer has recently incorporated a new EyeSight system into this vehicle, which has the capability of detecting pedestrians and informing drivers. This was examined by NCAP experts and performed admirably in stringent testing conditions.
The EyeSight is the first ever driver assist system ever to utilise only stereo cameras to detect the objects such as vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. This helps contribute to the reputation of this vehicle as one of the safest on the road.
Have we missed a pedestrian safety feature? Let us know in the comments below!