This article looks at the connections between SUV sales and the rising number of pedestrian fatalities.
SUV and pickup sales have increased dramatically in recent years at a time when the sale of smaller sedans has dropped. These large vehicles may allow their drivers to feel more secure, but they put pedestrians and other road users at increased risk of death and serious injury. In fact, a recent study by the Detroit Free Press has uncovered that the dramatic upswing in fatal pedestrian accidents across the country in the nearly last decade is largely because of the growing number of large vehicles on the road.
SUVs put pedestrians in danger
It almost goes without saying that large vehicles are more dangerous to pedestrians than smaller ones. However, it is not just their size, but also how SUVs and pickups are designed that makes them so dangerous. In contrast to sedans, these larger vehicles tend to have higher and boxier front ends that are more likely to hit pedestrians’ upper bodies. Sedans, on the other hand, are more likely to strike pedestrians’ lower bodies.
SUVs are also more powerful than smaller vehicles and, because of their large size, take longer to come to a full stop when driving at high speeds. That’s an especially big danger to pedestrians because even a relatively small increase in speed can have a big impact on survival rates. For example, while pedestrians struck by a vehicle going 20 mph have a 95 percent survival rate, that drops to 55 percent survival at 30 mph, and 15 percent survival at 40 mph.
Pedestrian fatalities climb
In recent years, SUV and, to a lesser extent, pickup sales have surged. About 60 percent of new vehicle sales are now SUVs or pickups and many automakers have even announced that they are discontinuing production of some of their smaller vehicles. As larger vehicles have become more popular with American drivers, the dangers that pedestrians face has likewise increased.
Pedestrian deaths have surged by 49 percent across the country since 2009, which is about the time when SUV sales started to increase dramatically. As NPR reports, between 2009 and 2016 the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs in single-vehicle collisions soared by 81 percent. The report by the Detroit Free Press also found that SUV and pickups were the main culprit in the increasing pedestrian fatality rate, far outstripping other possible causes like distracted driving, increased walking, or lower gas prices.
Personal injury law
The injuries that a pedestrian or other victim may sustain in a crash can be severe and painful. The crash may also lead to time taken off work, steep medical bills, and other expenses. A personal injury attorney can help clients who have been hurt seek the compensation they may be entitled to, including by helping them with every step of the claims process.