The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has safety standards that all automakers are supposed to meet, but these standards concern the vehicle occupants only and not those outside a vehicle. Residents of Washington should know that by contrast, many countries set up pedestrian safety standards over a decade ago.

The Government Accountability Office has called out NHTSA on this failure to look out for the safety of pedestrians. This comes at a time when more SUVs and light trucks are on the roads. Experts say that pedestrians are 3.4 times more likely to die in a crash with one of these vehicles than with a smaller vehicle because the former tend to injure pedestrians at the level of their head or neck.

The GAO also says that pedestrian detection systems should be embraced by automakers and that the failure to make these an integral part of new vehicles is contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities. It should be noted, however, that devices like automatic emergency braking are far from flawless.

Moreover, there are certain vehicle design factors that raise the risk for a pedestrian dying in a crash that cannot be improved upon. Cars are inherently dangerous, and there are still older vehicles on the road without crash avoidance technology.

Even with new technology in their vehicle, drivers still have the choice to be inattentive, break traffic laws and be negligent in other ways. When negligence is behind a pedestrian crash, the victim can file a claim, but it may be a good idea to have a lawyer evaluate the case beforehand. The lawyer might hire investigators to show just how the negligent driver was to blame, and medical experts may come in to determine the extent of the victim’s injuries.