Americans tend to follow trends when it comes to their cars and trucks. Recent automotive sales figures show that residents of New York and the rest of the nation share a clear preference for SUVs. This is not good news for pedestrians, because research shows that these large vehicles are more likely to cause serious injuries or deaths than traditional sedans.
According to J.D. Power, SUVs have higher leading edges, or front profiles, than regular cars. This means a pedestrian’s upper body usually takes the brunt of the vehicle’s force, and serious, potentially life-threatening injuries or fatalities often result.
Back in 2009, roughly a fifth of the vehicles out on the nation’s roads were SUVs. Not 10 years later, 70% of all new cars sold in the United States were SUVs or pickup trucks. While SUV sales have risen, SUV-on-pedestrian fatalities have risen alongside them.
SUV pedestrian crash statistics
Vehicle-on-pedestrian road deaths have risen steadily over the past decade, increasing by 53% within this span. These days, vehicle-on-pedestrian crashes cause a fifth of all traffic deaths. While SUVs are dangerous to pedestrians when traveling at any speed, studies show that speed plays a role in a victim’s chances of suffering an injury or fatality.
When cars and SUVs move at 19 mph and hit pedestrians, the pedestrians hit by the SUVs suffer more serious injuries. When both types of vehicles travel at 40 mph and strike people on foot, 100% of pedestrians hit by SUVs die in comparison with 54% of those hit by sedans.
Many automakers have pledged to make changes to the body designs of their SUVs to help reduce SUV-on-pedestrian traffic deaths.