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SUVs and the pedestrian deaths they continue to cause

Pedestrian Accidents

American drivers’ love of larger vehicles has proved to be a death knell for some pedestrians. These vehicles are much larger than the average car, and, due to their heights, sometimes, prevent SUV drivers from even seeing pedestrians.

A 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) disclosed what most of us already know: that SUVs are more dangerous to pedestrians than cars and more likely to cause a pedestrian’s death than a cars.

Pedestrian deaths continue to rise

SUVs have surged in popularity in the past 20 years and account for an increasing number of motor vehicles on U.S. roads. The IIHS study only focused on a small slice of incidents when it reviewed 79 SUV-pedestrian collisions that occurred in three urban areas in Michigan. Here are some of the key findings:

  • A total of 30% of the crashes in which SUVs that traveled 20 to 39 mph led to fatal injuries to pedestrians. That number was 23% in which cars struck pedestrians.
  • The three incidents in Michigan in which an SUV traveled 40 mph or faster and struck a pedestrian led to fatalities. That is a 100% death rate. Meanwhile, 54% of the incidents involving cars at that same speed led to a pedestrian death.
  • Pedestrian deaths rose 53% in the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018.
  • While pedestrian incidents usually involve cars, SUV-related fatalities involving pedestrians climbed 81% from 2009 to 2016, the most of any vehicle category.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, single-vehicle accidents involving SUVs and pedestrians accounted for 17% of the total number of pedestrian fatalities in 2019. During that year, a total of 6,205 pedestrians died on U.S. roads, nearly 1,100 were struck by an SUV.

While vehicle manufacturers have focused on improving SUV safety for its drivers and passengers, they have not made a similar effort to address the dangers these large vehicles pose to pedestrians. It is time that changed.

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