American drivers just cannot seem to get enough of bigger and taller vehicles. The SUV comes to mind and has gained in popularity among people in the past 25 years. The attraction seems to allude to the old saying, “the bigger, the better.” Some contend that driving an SUV makes them feel safer on the roads.
But safety at what cost? Well, it is usually at the cost of bicyclists and pedestrians. Members of these two groups face the biggest safety challenges when sharing roads with SUVs. While the people inside these vehicles feel safe, it is the people such as pedestrians and bicyclists outside of these vehicles growing more fearful.
Pedestrian deaths continue to climb
We know this: Higher profile vehicles – those that are larger, taller and more powerful than the typical car – are more likely to cause severe injuries and death to pedestrians and cyclists.
What many people have noticed is that vehicles on the road have gotten bigger. And due to engineering and technological advancements, they have seen many safety improvements, leading to drivers becoming more comfortable and, even, complacent behind the wheel. This development proves dangerous for pedestrians.
In a 2020 study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that late-model SUVs continue to be more likely than cars kill pedestrians. A portion of the study reviewed 79 crashes in which an SUV struck a pedestrian in three urban areas of Michigan. Here is what it found:
- Roughly 30% of the Michigan crashes led to pedestrian fatalities when an SUV traveled 20 to 39 mph. When cars traveled at that same rate, 23% of crashes led to pedestrian deaths.
- In the Michigan crashes, there was a 100% death rate among pedestrians when they were struck by SUVs traveling 40 mph or faster. When cars traveled at that same rate, 54% of the crashed led to pedestrian deaths.
- Pedestrian deaths climbed 54% from 2009 to 2018.
- SUV-related deaths involving pedestrians rose 81% from 2009 to 2016.
There remains evidence that SUVs cause serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians. These drivers, sometimes, fail to see pedestrians whether from distraction or their view being obscured due to the heights of their SUVs. Pedestrians need to look out for themselves, because, sometimes, other drivers will not.