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Can Sticky Car Hoods Prevent Pedestrian Injuries?

Pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries, even when vehicles are traveling at slow speeds. In 2013, more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help prevent pedestrians from being hurt in crashes involving its self-driving cars, Google has come up with a very interesting idea. The high-tech company was recently granted a patent for a vehicle hood equipped with a special type of safety glue that would be released in the event of a pedestrian crash.

"The front region of the vehicle may be coated with a specialized adhesive that adheres to a pedestrian, and thus holds the pedestrian on the vehicle in the unfortunate event that the front of the vehicle comes into contact with the pedestrian," the patent states. "The adhesion of the pedestrian to the vehicle may prevent the pedestrian from bouncing off."

The rationale behind the invention is that many pedestrians are injured not only by the initial impact, but also from being thrown off the vehicle and onto the ground. In fact, the secondary impact often causes the most serious injuries.

As for whether it would work, the general consensus from scientists is that a sticky hood is better than a traditional hood. “Getting hit by a car once is much preferable to getting hit by a car and then the ground and then another car,” Rebecca Thompson, head of public outreach for the American Physical Society told Gizmodo. “Cyclists wear helmets not as much to prevent their head’s impact with the car as much as their head’s impact with the ground when they fall.”

Of course, the sticky hood could also cause other problems. For instance, drivers may have difficulty driving the vehicle to a safe place following a crash because the victim is obscuring the view. Similarly, the legs or arms of a pedestrian or cyclist who is stuck to the front of a car could get trapped under the car, resulting in new injuries.

Whether or not Google’s sticky hood comes to fruition, it is welcome news that auto manufacturers are taking pedestrian safety into account when designing new vehicles. Given the rise in pedestrian traffic fatalities, we need to explore all of the options.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious injury in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. After a serious California pedestrian crash, we can advocate on your behalf to help hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions and seek the compensation you deserve.