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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New emergency-braking technology that is supposed to help cars avoid pedestrian crashes is often ineffective, per AAA.

Why it matters: Pedestrian deaths are sharply higher, according to federal statistics, with nearly 6,000 fatalities a year, accounting for 16% of all traffic deaths. The technology has the potential to make the streets safer, but clearly needs more work, AAA said based on new test results.

By the numbers: AAA tested four 2019 mid-sized sedans equipped with pedestrian detection systems (Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord, Tesla Model 3 and Toyota Camry) with adult- and child-size dummies and found...

  • In daylight testing, the cars traveling 20 mph struck adults crossing the road 60% of the time.
  • At night, none of the systems detected or reacted to the adult pedestrian, an alarming result considering 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark.
  • When turning right and into a crosswalk, the cars hit the adult pedestrian every time.
  • When encountering a child darting from between two cars, the test vehicle traveling at 20 mph hit the child 89% of the time.
  • At over 30 mph, the systems failed every test.

The bottom line: Like most assisted-driving technologies, pedestrian detection systems have not been perfected and drivers need to pay attention.

Go deeper

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

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