Sport utility vehicles are among the most popular on the road. According to J.D. Power, they account for 70% of all new vehicle sales, a dramatic increase from 21% in 2009.
For all their many benefits, SUVs raise some safety concerns. Not only are they more likely to roll over in a crash, but if an SUV strikes a pedestrian, it is more likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities than a smaller car.
Why do SUVs tend to cause more serious injuries?
On an SUV, the “leading edge,” or front profile, of the vehicle is higher than it is on a smaller vehicle. When an SUV strikes a pedestrian, the leading edge makes contact with a higher point of the body. The resulting injuries tend to be graver because the higher front profile is more likely to damage vital organs when it comes in contact with the body.
How does speed affect the risk that SUVs pose to pedestrians?
The speed at which the vehicle is traveling at the time of the accident also makes a difference in the seriousness of the injuries and the likelihood of a fatality. There is no appreciable difference between the pedestrian fatality rates in accidents involving either cars or SUVs when the vehicle is traveling less than 19 miles per hour. The fatality rates increase at higher speeds.
The research showed that the fatality rate of pedestrians struck by SUVs traveling 40 miles per hour was 100%. When traveling over 19 miles per hour but less than 40, SUVs also cause more severe injuries when striking a pedestrian than cars.
SUV drivers can take steps to avoid hitting a pedestrian. These steps include slowing down in areas where pedestrians are likely to be, using increased caution in low-visibility conditions and always watching for people on foot.