The other evening I came quite close to having a nasty coming together with a pedestrian. Luckily I wasn't travelling at walking pace, but a second or two later and it would have been a different story.

It happened late at night outside Clapham Junction station in south London. I was waiting, a car's length back, at the traffic lights. To my right was the impromptu taxi rank, which has come into being because cabbies have decided to park in the middle of a two-way road.

And that was the problem. Commuters who have had a few, come rolling out of the station, spot the black cabs in the middle of the road and shoot off the pavement, hailing the cab with raised hand.

On this occasion the couple who lurched out of the dark and right across the front of Autocar's E350 were not only well hammered, but had run in front of me from my over-shoulder blind spot. And right at the point the lights went green.

The E350 has live parking sensors in the front bumper, so the instant they appeared, the beeping started. Luckily, I'd not booted it as the lights changed, so the girl used one hand on the front wing to steady herself and her boyfriend just waved a drunken hand in apology.

This incident - which must be repeated endlessly, every night across the country - put me in mind of a paper I download years ago from an EU website.

As part of the debate about introducing cars with 'pedestrian friendly' front ends, it was revealed that around 40 per cent of all pedestrians that are hit by cars are actually over the drink-drive limit themselves.

So although carmakers have to meet the 'ped pro' requirements they are also coming up with new technology to help drivers avoid jay-walkers and drunks.

Earlier this year I drove the new A8, which can be equipped with infra-red vision so animals and pedestrians can be spotted at night. However, I also tried it during the day (see p above picture) and found it made things much clearer even on a gloomy but bright day. Including a roadside goatherd and his flock.

BMW is also about to introduce all-round parking sensors using mini laser beams. These have virtually 360 degrees coverage around the car and will be indispensible for keeping the driver aware of moving obstacles that are well out of sight.

Personally, I'm all for the shared space street design which does away with most fencing and street furniture, forcing drivers and pedestrians to make eye contact in the battle for road space.

But when the pedestrian has had a skinfull, drivers need all the early warnings they can get.