Cars have gotten safer for the people inside them, but that's not much consolation if one of them runs into you when you're crossing the street. Google has come up with an idea to improve the situation.
To put it simply, Google was granted a patent this week for an adhesive hood. It would have an egg-shell-like covering that would crack if struck with enough force, releasing a gooey substance that would basically glue the pedestrian to the hood.
You could call it human flypaper.
The idea is that this would limit the number of impacts suffered by the pedestrian. Currently, someone hit by a car often bounces off and slams into another surface -- the car's roof or windshield, the street, a tree or some other unyielding substance.
It would also discourage hit-and-run accidents, since the evidence would be glued to your hood in plain view of everybody. The drawback is that the pedestrian would be all sticky.
Rising death rate
Pedestrian accidents are far from a minor problem. Pedestrian deaths as a percentage of traffic fatalities have been rising sharply -- from 11% in 2005 to 15% in 2014. About 4,800 pedestrians die each year in the United States -- 13 every day.
Experts differ on whether the rising death toll is the result of the trend towards making cities and towns more "walkable" or whether drivers have become more careless than ever because of smartphones and other distractions.
In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans to expand its safety ratings to assess how well a vehicle protects pedestrians.
Much of the hype surrounding self-driving cars is that they will be much less likely to mow down humans, but until then, we soft-shell humans need some help.
A Google spokeswoman quoted by The Washington Post declined to say more about the company's plans but said a patent isn't the same thing as a product announcement.