By Dave Bean, Editor, FMW
November 15, 2023
Those SUVs, pickups and vans whose front-end profiles are taller than 40 inches are about 45% more likely to kill pedestrians when struck, than comparable lower profile vehicles. And blunt shaped front-ends, even on medium-sized vehicles, can be fatal to pedestrians, as well.
“Some of today’s vehicles are pretty intimidating when you’re passing in front of them in a crosswalk,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “These results tell us our instincts are correct: More aggressive-looking vehicles can indeed do more harm.”
Vehicle accident fatalities where pedestrians died are up by 80% over the past fourteen years. In 2021, almost 7400 people on foot were killed following an encounter with a car or truck.
In the past three decades, passenger vehicles in the U.S. have widened by around 4 inches, as well as grown 10 inches longer. They are also 8 inches taller and half-a-ton heavier. There are now many vehicles that are at or greater than 40 inches at the very front of the hood – eye level for a significant number of adults.
Certainly, driving too fast and poorly maintained roads have been responsible for many vehicle fatalities, including those where pedestrians have been involved. But safety proponents also point to the incremental increase in the size of SUVs and pickup trucks.
“It’s clear that the increasing size of the vehicles in the U.S. fleet is costing pedestrians their lives,” Harkey said. “We encourage automakers to consider these findings and take a hard look at the height and shape of their SUVs and pickups.”
Researchers at IIHS have determined that a major difference between tall, blunt-end vehicles and other less aggressive designs is the type of injury inflicted, a likely result of the trajectory of the pedestrian when contact is made. When hit by these larger vehicles, pedestrians were often thrown forward, incurring life-threatening torso injuries, rather than rolling onto the hood of smaller vehicles with a more sloped front profile, which lessened the chance of a fatal outcome.
For more details from IIHS, click here.