Deadly SUV-Pedestrian Crashes on the Rise
I’m Ed Smith, a pedestrian injury lawyer in Sacramento. It is now more dangerous than ever to walk down America’s streets. After a decade of decline, pedestrian fatalities in the United States have skyrocketed, and researchers say drivers of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other high-performance vehicles are responsible for a growing number of the surge.
Though most pedestrian crashes involve cars, fatal single-vehicle crashes are increasingly involving SUVs. According to a May 2018 study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), deadly pedestrian accidents are growing at a faster rate with SUVs than with cars. Between 2009 and 2016, fatal pedestrian crashes involving SUVs increased by over 80 percent compared to 45 percent for all other types of vehicles.
Factors in Fatal SUV-Pedestrian Accidents
IIHS spokesperson Kim Stewart says their study did not specifically examine the reasons why fatal pedestrian crashes involving SUVs have increased. However, she believes the upsurge involves two key factors.
“The increase in SUV involvement in fatal pedestrian crashes likely reflects the growing popularity of SUVs,” said Stewart. “Some features of SUVs and other light trucks make them more dangerous than cars to pedestrians when they are struck.”
Popularity of SUVs
SUVs have indeed become more popular in recent years, making up a more significant share of the vehicles on the road. SUV sales surpassed sedans in 2014 and continue to climb. The number of registered SUVs rose 37 percent from 2009 to 2016. Statistics from Automobile magazine indicate that SUVs and trucks now make up 67 percent of the auto market in the United States.
Design of SUVs
Vehicle size and weight can make a difference when it comes to protecting its occupants. While SUVs and other larger vehicles offer more protection for drivers and their passengers, researchers found that these vehicles were also more likely to severely injure or kill pedestrians during an impact.
“SUVs, pickups, and vans are higher with more vertical front ends, which make it more likely to fatally hit a pedestrian in the chest or head, said Stewart. “Making changes to the front design of these vehicles could help reduce injuries when they hit pedestrians.”
Watch YouTube Video: Pedestrian Fatalities and SUV Accidents on the Rise, Report Finds. This news clip from NBC Nightly News discusses the increase of deadly SUV-pedestrian accidents.
Preventing Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian safety advocates believe that improvements in vehicle design could make SUVs and other high-performance vehicles less dangerous to pedestrians. Cars with safety features like collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking (AEB) that can detect pedestrians could help reduce as many as 5,000 pedestrian accidents and more than 800 pedestrian deaths each year. One study found that Subaru cars that are equipped with an automatic emergency braking system had 35 percent fewer pedestrian collisions than the same models without the safety feature. Numerous auto manufacturers, such as General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, are looking into integrating these safety features as standard equipment for all their future models by 2022.
Other recommendations include softening the front-end of the SUVs, making headlights brighter, installing rearview cameras and adding pedestrian airbags that inflate if the car strikes someone, preventing the pedestrian from hitting the front roof pillars. Researchers also recommend improving pedestrian infrastructures such as road diets (lane reduction), pedestrian bulb-outs (curb extensions), signalized mid-block crossings and more sidewalks, especially on dangerous roadways.
Stewart says improvements should also be made to assist both drivers and pedestrians see better, especially at night.
“Because a large majority of pedestrian deaths happen in the dark, better street lighting and better vehicle headlights could help,” said Stewart.
Stewart added that reducing vehicle speeds via lower speed limits and use of speed cameras to enforce existing speed limits can also help minimize deadly pedestrian crashes.
Future Safety Measures
There’s no denying how dangerous SUVs are to pedestrians based on recent statistics. As these high-performance vehicles continue to rise in popularity, automakers should take proactive steps to educate the public about safety repercussions. The ability to respond to pedestrian safety is a crucial element of efforts to prevent pedestrian fatalities. Like all other road traffic collisions, pedestrian accidents should not be accepted as inevitable because they are preventable.
In the meantime, while cities and auto manufacturers strive for better safety measures, it is essential that drivers and pedestrians alike stay alert to their surroundings and practice attentiveness at all times. Both drivers and pedestrians share the responsibility of keeping themselves and others safe on the road.
Pedestrian Injury Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a pedestrian injury lawyer in Sacramento. The number of pedestrian deaths continues to climb nationwide due to the popularity of SUVs on the road and other various factors. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, call me for free, friendly and compassionate legal advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. You can also contact me online.
I am proud to have assisted many residents in Sacramento and throughout Northern California obtain justice in personal injury and wrongful death cases for over three decades.
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