If you spend time in the San Francisco Bay Area, you have likely seen Google’s self-driving cars out on test runs. While we are still getting used to the idea of autonomous vehicles, Google recently announced another wild invention: sticky technology to protect pedestrians who are hit by cars. This may sound odd at first, but when you think about the injuries a pedestrian typically sustains after being hit by a car, it makes perfect sense.
What Is “Sticky Technology?”
Think of Google’s new patent as a command strip for your car. They envision an adhesive layer that activates on contact, catching a pedestrian like flypaper. Instead of a pedestrian bouncing off a vehicle and into oncoming traffic, he or she will adhere to the front of a vehicle, minimizing injury.
According to the patent description, the adhesive coating is applied to the front portion of the vehicle. If a pedestrian is struck, the adhesive activates instantaneously upon contact. In most front-end collisions with pedestrians, the victim may suffer more serious injuries from being thrown to the ground than from actual contact with the car. This adhesive technology could prevent countless injuries and fatalities. Once the adhesive coating activates, it would allow the driver and the pedestrian to come to a stop much more gently.
The patent was approved on May 17. While other car companies have attempted to create cushions to minimize pedestrian impact, Google’s technology is the first of its kind. It is the only technology so far that addresses secondary impacts that a pedestrian may experience.
Is There a Big Enough Market for This Technology?
Some wonder if pedestrian injuries from vehicle accidents are commonplace enough to merit the costs of implementing such technology. The short answer? Yes. Consider these chilling statistics about pedestrian/vehicle accidents:
- In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly 5,000 pedestrians were killed. An additional 70,000 sustained injuries in pedestrian/vehicle accidents.
- Pedestrians account for nearly 12% of all traffic-related deaths.
- On average, a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes.
There are several factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents. For example, pedestrian injuries are most likely to occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. when the after-work commute is at its peak and tensions run high. Urban areas are responsible for 60% of all pedestrian-related crashes. These figures may be explained by:
- Pedestrian behavior. Illegal actions like jaywalking increase the likelihood that a pedestrian will come into contact with a car. Walking against a traffic signal, crossing without a crosswalk, and failing to use sidewalks also contribute to the risk of an accident.
- Driver-related factors. Running yellow lights, speeding, and traffic volume increase the likelihood of a pedestrian related accident.
- Physical environment. Limited crosswalks, lack of continuous sidewalks, and poorly timed crossing signals lead to pedestrian injuries.
Combining New Technology and Autonomous Cars
Google hopes that its autonomous cars will alleviate the problem of pedestrian accidents, as self-driving vehicles are not subject to human error. Combined with their new sticky technology, the technology conglomerate aims to drastically improve the safety of urban dwelling pedestrians in the Bay Area and beyond.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
Unfortunately, we do not yet live in a world of self-driving cars and adhesive front bumpers. Pedestrian accidents can and do happen. If you have been injured in a vehicle accident through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim. Contact our office for a free initial consultation. We will review your case, risk-free, and advise your next steps. You only pay if we secure you a settlement, so get in touch with us today.