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Coming soon: Automotive technologies to keep pedestrians safe

We've read a lot the past few years about self-driving cars, which largely are designed to protect the people inside the car – not pedestrians. But that is changing.

The next car you buy just might include technologies to prevent you from hitting pedestrians on the road.

By 2022, almost all cars sold in the United States -- 99 percent of them – are expected to include automatic braking as a standard feature in all new cars. Technologies in other countries are more advanced and even can detect pedestrians through steam rising from vents in the ground and apply the brakes if the driver doesn't.

Also, one auto supplier is working on integrating the road equipment at an intersection with wireless communication to send signals about pedestrians in the area to the cars.

"Think of it as a bird's eye perspective of the intersection," said the director of systems and technology for the chassis and safety division of the manufacturer's North American division. "You mount the sensors on the infrastructure on the top of the poles or on the boom arms that hang over the intersection. They then have a much better vantage point of everything which is approaching the intersection."

The system is scheduled to be piloted this year in Columbus, Ohio, but it is likely some time away from being installed in the majority of American cars.

And finally, automakers are working on creating a way to project all the information that usually causes drivers to take their eyes off the road, such as GPS directions, the time and fuel level, onto the windshield. That way, drivers will be looking ahead and not down at the dashboard.

These might sound like something out of "The Jetsons," but the technology is on the verge of being perfected. And down the road, when these features become standard in new cars, pedestrians will be safer than ever.

But until then, both drivers and pedestrians on Southern California streets need to continue to exercise caution to keep the roads safe for all. Any injured pedestrian should contact an attorney experienced with auto-pedestrian accidents to discuss ways to recoup any losses.

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