Are SUVs Killing More Pedestrians?

Earlier this month, we reported that Texas roads haven’t had a fatality-free day since November of 2000. In the last 19 years, over 67,000 people have lost their lives while on a Texas road. Many of these deaths are pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, pedestrian and cyclist deaths have increased throughout the state by 40 percent. Now, many are wondering if SUVs are causing this increased rate of fatalities for those who aren’t in cars.

SUV & Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

In Texas, the rate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities has increased along with the popularity of large SUVs and trucks. This has led many safety experts to question the safety of large vehicles on the road. One investigation from the Detroit Free Press confirmed this suspicion. The news outlet found that SUVs are a constant presence in America’s 46 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities since 2009.

The investigation found the following:

  • SUVs are twice as likely as cars to kill pedestrians because of their higher profile
  • Federal proposals to use pedestrian deaths as a factor for vehicle safety ratings have stalled
  • Minorities suffer the most from pedestrian accidents

How Are Authorities Addressing the Problem?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has acknowledged these problems but is yet to implement safety rules for automakers who produce SUVs. In a 195-page report, the NHTSA cited 12 studies about pedestrian safety.

The report said that “…SUVs and pickup account for closer to 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities, which suggests that injuries may be more severe when sustained in collisions with these vehicles.” It then concluded its findings by saying, “Results for a meta-analysis of 12 independent injury data studies showed that pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passengers car.” Despite this study, federal bodies have not implemented improved safety rating standards for SUVs.

How to Stop Pedestrian Deaths Caused by SUVs

The first step safety advocates suggest reducing pedestrian fatalities with infrastructure improvements. They say that simple improvements to city streets would help to lower pedestrian fatalities. Some safety advocates also suggest improving SUV safety with technology. Improved design and automatic braking systems could stop an imminent accident from occurring. Other advocates suggest a more immediate solution than waiting for all SUVs to have safety tech installed: a vehicle tax based on weight.

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