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Accident-reduction innovation: Pedestrian airbags

Massachusetts has a fondness for affordable family autos, according to state vehicle registration figures examined by MSN.com. Our three favorite vehicles are the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Corolla.

Perhaps one day the list will include the new Volvo V40, the first car fitted with airbags for pedestrians.

The Swedish automaker always strives to be on the cutting edge of safety technology (it was first on the market with a three-point seatbelt). Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, the 2013 model of the V40 is available in Australia, but is apparently not currently slated to be sold in this country.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that traffic fatalities are slowly falling, though fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists are rising. Of the more than 32,300 traffic accident fatalities last year, one out of six people killed were not inside a vehicle.

Now Volvo is determined to protect those who are outside its vehicles. It follows in the footsteps of Jaguar and its Pedestrian Contract Sensing System which, upon sensing contact with a pedestrian, opens the car's hood to soften the impact of the pedestrian and help prevent the person from going through the vehicle's windshield.

Volvo's innovation senses a pedestrian and automatically applies the car's brakes.

A sensor in the vehicle's grille determines the distance between the object in front of the car, while a camera helps identify the object. The system then sets off a flashing light and alarm to warn the driver of the presence of a pedestrian.

If the driver doesn't respond, the brakes are applied enough to stop a car going 21 mph. If that isn't enough to prevent a pedestrian collision, an airbag outside the car is deployed. The bag raises the hood of the car and covers part of the windshield in less than a second, giving the pedestrian a couple of impact-softening measures.

Anyone injured in a pedestrian accident should contact an attorney experienced in successfully handling complex personal injury cases.

Source: Popsci.com, "Volvo's New Exterior Airbags Protect Pedestrians," Shaunacy Ferro, Feb. 20, 2013

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