A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. They have increased by 46 percent since 2009, and there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in 2016.
And while many factors may play a role in these accidents, one piece of information that stands out is the increasing numbers of SUVs, pickups and vans involved.
Why are these vehicles more dangerous?
The design of SUVs and larger passenger vehicles puts pedestrians at increased risk for severe or fatal injuries in an accident. The biggest problem with the design of SUVs is the front end. In SUVs, the front end of the vehicle is typically higher than those of cars. The front ends are also more vertical in SUVs. These issues make it easier for pedestrians to get struck in the chest or head where they can suffer fatal injuries.
Changes to vehicle design may help reduce injuries
Lowering the front end of SUVs could decrease the severity of pedestrian injuries. Another possible design improvement is to create “softer” vehicle fronts. The idea is to have hoods and fenders that are crushable, thus reducing the force of the impact on the pedestrian. And putting padding in bumpers could lessen the severity of leg injuries.
As many new vehicles come equipped with more self-driving features, the chances of pedestrian accidents occurring may start to decline. Features such as radar and rear cameras may spot pedestrians before the driver does, allowing for more time for drivers to stop.