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Volvo offers pedestrian detection with full autonomous braking on the V40 (Photo: Volvo)

Emergency braking systems would go a long way toward further reducing pedestrian casualties in traffic accidents, according to a study conducted by the German insurance industry.

The study, carried out by the accident research unit (UDV) of the German Insurance Association (GDV), found that, in a collision between a car and a pedestrian, the speed of the car to a major extent determines the severity of a pedestrian's injuries.

"Above all, we need to reduce the impact velocity," said Siegfried Brockmann, head of the testing unit. "Emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection are needed for this and they should be offered in all vehicle classes as soon as possible."

The testing unit looked at the pedestrian protection systems of 19 current car models in Germany and found that, even in collisions with the latest car models, the severity of pedestrians' head injuries varies greatly from one model to the next. Moreover, cars that pose a high risk to adults may be relatively safe for children or vice versa.

The UDV said sophisticated pedestrian-protection technologies such as pop-up hoods would only bring a "marginal" improvement in many models. But when that technology is combined with a window airbag it would substantially reduce the severity of injuries with adults.

All cars performed well once average collision speeds are cut from 40 km/h to 30 km/h. Safety is improved even further if average speeds are cut to 20 km/h.