83% of drivers and 78% of pedestrians are concerned about being involved in a vehicle collision, but respondents believe that new technologies can significantly improve road safety, according to the Safer Mobility Survey conducted by PAVE (Partners for Automated Vehicle Education) and AEye, Inc.
The survey indicates that safer mobility needs to be a higher priority for communities nationwide. More than 40% of survey respondents chose improving safety on roads and highways as the most important transportation issue — over improving commutes and making transportation more sustainable.
Annual vehicle collision fatalities are at a 16-year high, with more than 42,000 in 2021. Pedestrian fatalities also rose by 11.5%, to more than 7,485, last year, and bicyclist fatalities rose 9% from 2019 to 2020. The survey results suggest that most respondents believe road safety technologies can be the key to improving driver, pedestrian, and bicyclist safety.
PAVE and AEye fielded the Safer Mobility Survey in November 2022 to gauge Americans' views on road safety for all road users, including drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The survey of 1,095 adults found that 78% believe technology is very or somewhat important in solving driving safety issues, and 82% feel safer with technology-driven Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in vehicles. Blind spot monitoring was selected as the most important ADAS feature among respondents, followed by forward collision and object detection warnings. According to research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, blind spot detection has helped reduce lane change crashes by 14%.
"We wanted a better understanding of what's most important and worrisome not only to drivers, but to cyclists and pedestrians," says Matt Bretoi, AEye's senior director of ITS and smart cities. "The results clearly showed that pedestrians and bicyclists have heightened concerns about crossing streets safely and being struck by a vehicle, and that they want their cities and towns to do more to protect them on the road."
Almost 58% of respondents selected improving pedestrian and crosswalk safety as their highest priority, with nearly 50% — three times more than any other category — identifying distracted drivers as their number one road safety concern. Only 13% of respondents said their city or town was doing enough to address pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
"Road safety technologies can significantly decrease crashes and highway fatalities, but these technologies can only help if drivers actually use them," said Tara Andringa, executive director of PAVE. "The survey found that people see the safety value of new technologies, which is good news. It's now our job to educate drivers about these technologies so we can realize their full potential."
Investments in smart infrastructure technology for intersections, combined with ADAS or autonomous vehicle technology, provide a solution for improved roadway safety. Lidar sensors in vehicles and at intersections deliver high resolution 3D data and detection that helps identify pedestrians, objects, and other vehicles in all weather and lighting conditions. By providing high performance detection in demanding safety applications, lidar helps to improve traffic flow, protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists, and ensure safe vehicle navigation.