A Growing Epidemic: Pedestrian Death by SUV

Published on July 8th, 2018

pedestrian death by SUVA pedestrian hit by any vehicle is at risk for a fatal injury, but particularly so when an SUV is involved in the auto accident. An investigation by the Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY found that SUVs are the cause of escalating pedestrian deaths nationwide.

The Sad Statistics Behind Pedestrian Death

Pedestrian deaths are up nearly 50 percent since 2009. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that pedestrians are two to three times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by a powerful SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passenger car.

SUVs account for the increase with their stiff, high, heavy, blunt, front-end profiles, and this positioning means the pedestrian’s head and chest are more likely to be struck in initial impact. Serious head and chest injuries make these accidents with SUVs twice as likely as cars to kill walkers, joggers, and children.

Urban areas are more likely to see pedestrian deaths by SUV, and minorities are killed at a disproportionate rate, according to recent studies. Detroit has one of the highest per-capital death rates among cities with populations of at least 200,000 people in the years 2009 to 2016. Also included in this list of cities plagued by pedestrian death by SUV include St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Newark, Miami, Tampa, Fayetteville, Phoenix, San Bernardino, and Birmingham.

Knowledge of this SUV threat does not seem to make any difference in federal efforts to make a change. A federal proposal to factor pedestrians into vehicle safety ratings has not progressed, and some automakers even oppose the measure. Vehicle safety measures are available and could save hundreds of pedestrians’ lives every year but they are not widely used by some automakers and, more importantly, they are not required.

Preventing Pedestrian Death by Auto

SUVs account for 60 percent of new vehicle sales. Passenger cars are being discontinued. These machines aren’t going anywhere. Adapting is essential. Automakers should be implementing features like auto braking, emergency braking, deployable hoods, and external airbags. The solutions to prevent pedestrian deaths don’t have to be complicated.

But it’s not just automakers who can help reduce the number of vehicle accidents leading to pedestrian deaths. Cities can take measures to protect their residents with infrastructure changes and diligent policing. Lower speed limits, midblock crosswalks, and better lighting all contribute to safer streets. Pedestrian safety advocates have highlighted efforts like speed and red-light cameras, training for cab drivers, and reducing the number of lanes as positive measures toward keeping pedestrians safer.

Motorists have responsibilities:

  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Put the smartphone away while operating a vehicle
  • Don’t drive while intoxicated.

And, of course, pedestrians have responsibilities too:

  • Don’t walk and text, especially when crossing the street.
  • Use crosswalks and don’t jaywalk.
  • Wear visible clothing while walking at night.
  • Take extra caution if intoxicated.

When SUVs and Pedestrians Collide

It makes sense that bigger, heavier, faster, more powerful vehicles are more likely to cause pedestrian deaths. And fatal injuries to pedestrians are nothing new. But the problem is becoming an epidemic and there is no excuse for it. Detroit has the highest per-capita pedestrian death rate among large cities, though the number has dropped since more than 60,000 new streetlights were added.

If you or a loved one have been hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian, contact the pedestrian accident lawyers at Thurswell Law. Contact Thurswell Law for a free consultation with one of our experienced vehicle accident attorneys. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today to schedule your consultation.

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