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Carmakers include life-saving features to protect pedestrians

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunAutomakers are improving car functions that protect pedestrians as a result of government safety evaluations aimed at protecting people outside of cars as well as inside them. The government aims to reduce fatal car accidents.

Such functions could become a key factor when people choose cars to buy because accidents involving pedestrians have a huge impact on drivers.

Daihatsu Motor Co. launched a Tanto mini-vehicle in November that automatically applies the brakes just before a collision with a pedestrian.

Automatic brakes have mainly been used for avoiding rear-end collisions. However, Daihatsu Senior Executive Officer Toru Ueda said, “The company introduced the function to ease the anxieties of people who do not feel confident driving.” Other automakers have also put this function to practical use.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. launched a fully remodeled Impreza equipped with a pedestrian air bag as standard in October. When sensors on the car detect a collision with a pedestrian, an air bag on the hood inflates to absorb any impact. Subaru is the first Japanese automaker to put this function to practical use.

The government’s efforts to reduce fatal accidents involving pedestrians have led to these efforts by automakers.

According to 2015 traffic accident statistics, 37 percent of people who died in traffic accidents were killed while walking — the most frequent type of fatality. People who were killed while driving accounted for 32 percent of the total.

To help people choose what car to buy, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry changed the evaluation method of its car safety assessment program in fiscal 2011, placing more importance on protecting pedestrians. Bumper shock-absorbing capability and automatic braking systems that protect pedestrians were added this fiscal year.

According to an assessment result announced by the ministry on Dec. 1, Mazda’s improved Axela, which was released in July, scored the most points out of 11 cars from six brands. An automatic pedestrian brake system resulted in the car’s high evaluation.

The ministry plans to introduce a stricter assessment method regarding the protection of pedestrians in fiscal 2018.

However, air bags and automatic brakes can only play auxiliary roles. It is necessary to strongly communicate to drivers the importance of safe driving and that those functions are not all-encompassing, like automated driving systems.Speech

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