Volvo’s introduction of a pedestrian air bag in its V40 model in Europe reiterates how the United States trails Europe in terms of safety standards, a collision investigator says.
Rusty Haight, who is director of Collision Safety Institute, says the day will come when U.S. automobile models include pedestrian protections, but we won’t hold our breath. “It’s kind of embarrassing that we don’t do the testing” that Europeans do, he says.
Volvo in March 2012 unveiled a pedestrian air bag that inflates between the car’s windshield and hood in the event of a collision with a pedestrian. The concept has been studied for several years, but this marks its first widespread use in a vehicle. Haight says some European Fiat models slightly raise the hood upon impact with a pedestrian. This prevents the hood from buckling and the pedestrian’s head from being injured by striking the engine block. Volvo didn’t respond to our requests for information about whether pedestrian air bags eventually would be available in U.S. models.
Haight says federal pedestrian-safety standards must be established for automakers before such technology makes it to U.S. vehicles, because testing isn’t in place and U.S. manufacturers don’t have a frame of reference for how to outfit their models for potential automobile-pedestrian collisions.