Study says SUVs partly to blame for increase in pedestrian deaths

A recent study says that pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs have shot up by an alarming 81 percent.

The number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents has reached heights not seen in decades. Many reasons have been given for the rise, including increased speed limits, a rebounding economy that has led to more vehicular traffic, and the fact that many people are simply walking and biking more. However, according to NBC News, one often overlooked cause for the increase in fatal pedestrian accidents may be SUV sales. A recent study has found that pedestrian deaths caused by SUVs have soared 81 percent since 2009.

Pedestrian deaths reach new highs

According to NPR, pedestrian deaths in the United States were higher in 2016 than they have been at any point since 1990. While overall traffic fatalities have been trending upwards in recent years, especially after the rebound from the 2008 Financial Crisis, deaths involving pedestrians have seen an especially dramatic upward shift.

One reason for the increased danger to pedestrians may be the fact that there are more SUVs on the road. Trucks and SUVs now make up more than 67 percent of the domestic auto market and SUV registrations jumped by 37 percent between 2009 and 2016. By comparison, all other passenger vehicle registrations declined by less than one percent. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs have skyrocketed across the United States by 81 percent between 2009 and 2016.

Why are SUVs more dangerous?

SUVs tend to be safer for drivers and other vehicle occupants because they are large vehicles that are likely to fare better in accidents involving smaller vehicles. However, the features that make SUVs safer for vehicle occupants also make them more dangerous for pedestrians. The sheer size of SUVs means that it is very easy for pedestrians or cyclists to easily get lost in an SUV driver's blind spots.

Furthermore, the way that SUVs are designed ensures that when pedestrians are struck by them they are far more likely to suffer serious injuries. Most SUVs have frontends, for example, that are both high and flat. As a result, when an SUV hits a pedestrian that pedestrian is more likely to be hit in the chest or head instead of the legs, thus increasing their chances of being seriously injured or killed.

A number of changes could help reduce fatalities involving SUVs and pedestrians. Better designed frontends, pedestrian airbags, brighter headlights, and rearview cameras were all listed by the IIHS as being able to improve pedestrian safety.

Help after a crash

Those who have been injured in a crash should talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help crash victims make sense of what legal options they may have, which in some cases will include the possibility of pursuing financial compensation to help them on the road to recovery.