A Subaru Outback successfully stops for a "pedestrian" crossing the road in front of it.

Enlarge / A Subaru Outback successfully stops for a "pedestrian" crossing the road in front of it. (credit: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

After reaching an all-time low in 2009, the number of pedestrian fatalities caused by cars has been on the rise in recent years. New technology has the potential to change that. A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Studies (IIHS) ranks 16 mid-sized cars on the performance of their pedestrian-detection systems.

Six of the cars earned "superior" ratings, indicating that they were able to stop—or slow down significantly—in each of the six scenarios tested by IIHS. These vehicles were the Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Subaru Outback, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan Maxima, and Volvo S60.

All of these vehicles except the Mercedes achieved superior performance with the standard equipment. The Mercedes C-Class achieved a superior rating for its optional "Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function" but only a "basic" rating with the standard package.

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