In the last few decades, sport utility vehicles have become some of the most popular types of automobiles on American roads. At the same time, pedestrians continue to account for a greater percentage of people killed in automobile accidents.
One new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that these two facts may be linked.
More pedestrians killed by SUVs
The IIHS study evaluated multiple scenarios to compare the impact on a pedestrian of being hit by a standard car with that of being hit by an SUV. All tests conducted with SUVs operating at 40 miles per hour or faster resulted in pedestrian fatalities. When cars operated at 40 miles per hour or faster, pedestrians died 54% of the time.
Reducing speeds made some positive difference but still resulted in worse results when an SUV hit a pedestrian versus when a car hit a pedestrian. At speeds between 20 and 39 miles per hour, 30% of pedestrians hit by SUVs died compared with 23% of pedestrians hit by cars.
Impact on vital organs
The height of an SUV’s front grill more likely results in impact to a pedestrian’s torso which houses vital organs compared to impact by a car which may result in impact in the legs.
Advanced technology not sufficient to prevent crashes
Another study conducted by AAA found that even when pedestrian detection systems manage to alert a driver to a pedestrian’s presence, the automatic braking systems failed to stop the vehicle in time to prevent a collision more often than not. At night, these systems were rated as totally ineffective.