With the combination of distracted drivers, drowsy drivers, drivers who are under the influence and those who are behaving recklessly behind the wheel, roads have always been dangerous for pedestrians. Recent research found that the type of vehicle involved in collisions with people who are not in vehicles can play a huge role in the outcome of an accident.
New SUVs don’t equate to safer SUVs
A recent study found that SUVs are involved in more fatal pedestrian accidents than are smaller vehicles. And, the statistics show that new SUV models are more dangerous than older models. This is true even with the safety improvements over the years. SUV designs have focused on passenger safety, but it may be at the expense of pedestrians.
In 1980, there were more than 50,000 auto accident fatalities. By 2018, that had reduced to slightly more than 36,500. However, while overall deaths have gone down, pedestrian deaths have risen. In the decade from 2009 to 2018, there was a 53% increase in pedestrian fatalities. This coincides with the greater popularity of SUVs as their market share increased by 8% to 29%.
What makes SUVs so dangerous for walkers and runners?
The study revealed SUV vs. pedestrian accidents are more deadly than car vs. pedestrian accidents. Around 20% of all traffic deaths involve pedestrians. This is the worst total for that demographic in 40 years. Other studies have been consistent with the SUV-pedestrian fatality connection. A factor in SUV risk is that they are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. The shape of SUVs is also a factor – rather than being hit by a low car bumper, pedestrians are hit by a large, often flat, grille. Rather than a broken leg, an accident victim can suffer a broken pelvis, crushed ribcage and internal injuries.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) plans to conduct further studies to assess options that can make SUVs less dangerous. European car manufacturers have tried various features, including pedestrian airbags, but their effectiveness may not translate well to the larger SUVs of the U.S. The IIHS admits much is left to be done.