Could the Popularity of SUVs Explain the Rise in Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths?
March 24, 2020
Last year, almost 5% more pedestrians died across the U.S. than in 2018, according to preliminary data. This grim statistic reflects a steady rise in pedestrian accidents over the last ten years.
What’s more, researchers believe the increased popularity of SUVs may be taking a literal toll on pedestrians’ lives.
Disturbing data on pedestrian accidents
A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) revealed the following statistics:
- Pedestrian fatalities were 53% higher in 2019 than in 2009, while other traffic deaths increased by 2%.
- An estimated 6,590 pedestrians lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2019, compared to 6,227 in 2018.
- Pedestrians comprise an estimated 17% of all traffic fatalities in 2019, compared to 12% in 2009.
- Pedestrian deaths resulting from accidents involving SUVs increased by 81% from 2009 to 2018, compared to a 53% increase in pedestrian deaths from passenger car crashes.
- The number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities rose by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in daytime pedestrian deaths.
- Another study showed that young pedestrians (children ages 5 – 9) are four times more likely to die in an accident involving an SUV or pickup.
- In Michigan, an estimated 62 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019, compared to 59 in 2018, resulting in an increase of 5%.
- Michigan had the 13th highest number of pedestrian deaths in a state-by-state comparison.
Why are SUVs and trucks so dangerous for pedestrians?
Pedestrians who are struck by SUVs are more likely to die or sustain severe injuries than those hit by smaller vehicles. Researchers believe the higher pedestrian death rate correlates to the number of drivers choosing SUVs over passenger cars.
Here are some of the reasons:
- Because they are larger and heavier than most automobiles, SUVs generate greater impact in the event of a crash.
- SUVs have higher front-end profiles, so a pedestrian is more likely to sustain a serious or fatal chest or head injury.
- SUV drivers have more difficulty seeing pedestrians because of the high front end of their vehicle.
What other factors affect the rise in pedestrian accidents?
In warmer weather, more people are out walking at night, which is when most pedestrians (approximately 75%) are killed. Furthermore, many roads are not well-lit, which makes it harder for drivers to see someone in their path.
Additionally, distracted drivers are responsible for the growing number of all traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians. When a driver is texting or engaging in other distracting activities, the risk of an accident intensifies durastically. And, if a pedestrian is focusing on a cell phone instead of watching for oncoming cars, the danger multiplies.
In addition, many accidents happen because drivers and/or pedestrians are impaired by alcohol or drugs. While we know driving under the influence can be deadly, crossing busy streets after drinking excessively compounds the danger.
Michigan accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
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