Vehicle Accident

An SUV Crash is More Deadly in Pedestrian Accidents

SUV Crash

There are few experiences as traumatic as pedestrian accidents. One moment, you’re just walking down the street, minding your own business. The next, your life is changed forever.

A pedestrian is simply no match for a several-thousand-pound vehicle barreling toward them. But as a new study shows, not all pedestrian accidents are created equal.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, are more likely to kill pedestrians than cars. Here’s a closer look at why an SUV crash is more dangerous for a pedestrian than an average car crash.

The Study

Released in May 2020, the study examined 79 single-vehicle crashes in the Vulnerable Road User Injury Prevention Alliance (VIPA) pedestrian crash database. Each crash includes an in-depth analysis, including detailed police report analysis, medical records, crash reconstructions, and injury attribution assessed by a panel of crash experts. The study focused on crashes involving an SUV or a car.

The study found that despite changes in vehicle design and fleet composition over the past twenty years, SUVs remain disproportionately likely to injure and kill pedestrians compared to regular passenger cars. These differences emerged primarily in crashes of intermediate speed, while crashes at low or high speeds tend to produce similar outcomes for SUVs compared to cars.

The Rising Risk of an SUV Crash

The worse news for pedestrians is that an SUV crash is more likely than it was in the past.

That’s because drivers are increasingly opting for SUVs over cars. In fact, cars saw the biggest drop in sales in 2019, while SUVs hold a commanding market share. With 6 million sales through June 2019 of SUVs and pickup trucks compared to 2.5 million car sales, SUVs and pickups hold roughly 70% of the market share.

Those sales translate into an increasing prevalence of SUV crashes. A 2018 investigation by the Detroit Free Press found that pedestrian deaths are up 46% since 2009, with SUVs as the leading cause. In fact, according to a 2018 study by IIHS, fatal single-vehicle SUV crashes increased 81% between 2009 and 2016, more than any other type of vehicle.

Why are SUVs More Dangerous in Pedestrian Accidents?

The question is, why are SUVs more dangerous to pedestrians?

The most obvious answer is size—SUVs are significantly bigger and heavier than regular passenger vehicles. Another obvious answer is speed, since SUVs have more horsepower than smaller cars. But the truth is a bit more complex.

The real risk comes from the way SUVs are designed, with a larger body and a higher carriage. According to data from the 2020 IIHS study, pedestrians face a higher risk of serious injury and fatality due to injuries caused by impact with the vehicle’s leading edge (the bumper, grille, and headlights).

Because an SUV’s front is built to be higher and blunter than a car’s, it’s much more likely to hit a pedestrian in the torso or head, where pedestrians are more likely to suffer fatal blows. And because of the higher clearance, pedestrians are more likely to be trapped under the vehicle instead of being pushed onto the hood or out of the way.

SUV engineers have begun incorporating design features to reduce risk to car occupants. By lowering bumpers, SUVs align more like smaller cars and pose no greater risk to car occupants.

But that makes no difference to pedestrians, because the location of force-absorbing structures is less important than the shape of the front-end. No similar efforts have yet been made to alter SUV design for pedestrian safety, though IIHS said it plans to use crash data to determine what SUV profile would pose the least risk to pedestrians.

The Pedestrian Accident Attorneys You Need for Your Family

Future designs make little difference if you or a loved one have already been involved in an SUV crash. You need to recover, and you need help now.

The pedestrian accident attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys have won millions for families just like yours for the last 25 years. That’s because our firm is built on the core tenets of hard work, dedication, and compassion. If it were our own loved ones, we wouldn’t settle for anything less, and we won’t settle for anything less than the best possible outcome for you.

If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, schedule your free consultation today to find out how we can help your family regain control of your life.

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Christian Collis

Chris Collis's Bio

Christian Collis has been an attorney for over 20 years. His legal career crosses multiple areas with the majority of his life spent fighting for plaintiffs in the areas of automobile negligence, trucking accidents, premises liability, and wrongful death.