More residents of Illinois and the rest of the United States are choosing SUVs over traditional sedans. Yet, these large, heavy vehicles often do significant damage when they strike pedestrians. Some automakers have begun to modify the body styles of their SUVs to cut back on pedestrian fatalities. However, so far, these changes have not had a significant impact on pedestrian fatality rates.
According to J.D. Power, in 2009, SUVs only accounted for about a fifth of all vehicles out on the roads. Yet, by 2019, 70% of all new vehicles sold across the United States were either SUVs or pickup trucks, which have similar front profiles.
SUVs and pedestrian fatalities
The number of pedestrians dying in car crashes increased 53% between 2010 and 2020, with SUV vehicle sales ticking steadily upward during this time. An SUV or truck has a higher front profile, or leading edge, than a typical sedan. This means that when SUVs and trucks come in contact with the bodies of pedestrians, the injuries that result are often life-threatening or fatal.
SUVs and speed
Research shows that pedestrians hit by SUVs often suffer more, and more serious, injuries than those hit by traditional passenger cars. Speed also plays a role. When SUVs and sedans traveling at 19 mph strike pedestrians, there is no major difference in outcomes. Yet, when SUVs and sedans travel at 40 mph and strike pedestrians, 100% of pedestrians hit by SUVs die in comparison with 54% of pedestrians hit by sedans.
Pedestrians may be able to reduce their risk of injury or fatality by sticking to areas that have sidewalks and avoiding walking after dark.