With the number of technological and safety enhancements and features vehicles are equipped with today, you would think it would be safe to assume that fewer accidents would happen. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, the design of modern SUVs actually makes them more dangerous to pedestrians.
When drivers over-rely on the technology inside their vehicles, it’s possible they can forget simple safety habits while behind the wheel. This includes remembering how to properly drive around pedestrians. Let’s take a look at some pedestrian accident statistics and why the designs of today’s SUVs are contributing to them.
Pedestrian Accidents Are on the Rise
According to the most recent Traffic Safety Facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2017. That means, on average, a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes in a traffic crash that year. Across the nation, pedestrian deaths accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Over the past ten years, the percentage of total pedestrian fatalities has been on the rise. The NHTSA tracks the pedestrian fatalities in a number of ways, including the type of vehicle involved. That year the majority of accidents involved light trucks, which include SUVs, pickups, and vans. The fatalities totals for all types of vehicles include the following:
- 2,243 fatalities from passenger cars
- 2,291 fatalities from light trucks
- 1,080 from SUVs
- 926 from pickups
- 263 from vans
- 290 fatalities from large trucks
- 33 fatalities from buses
- 506 fatalities from unknown vehicles
The type of vehicle involved in a pedestrian crash is important because it gives us an idea of the drivers that are more likely to cause accidents. While some drivers may think a fully-equipped SUV would be the safest to drive around pedestrians, this is not the case.
The Problem With SUVs
When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the first impact is usually the bumper or grille against some part of the leg. In less than a second, strained or torn ligaments or broken bones can occur. Depending on the speed and make of the vehicle, the chest and head could hit the windshield and the pedestrian could go up over the hood.
According to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, SUVs do more damage to pedestrians. This has to do with the height and shape of the larger vehicles. With a smaller passenger vehicle, the pedestrian is likely to slide up the hood, but with an SUV the initial impact is likely to target the pelvis or chest. Severe torso injuries are 98 percent more likely to occur in a crash with a vehicle in the light truck category. After head trauma, injuries to the torso are the second-leading cause of death in SUV/pedestrian crashes.
Improving Pedestrian Safety
Both drivers and pedestrians need to take the proper precautions when out and about. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians should consider the following:
- Increase your visibility by wearing reflective clothing and carrying a flashlight.
- Cross streets at designated crosswalks whenever possible.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths instead of the road. If a sidewalk is not available, walk on the shoulder and face traffic.
- Avoid using electronic devices like earbuds or walking if you have been using drugs or drinking alcohol. Pedestrian distractions can contribute to accidents, just like driver distractions.
In regard to the actions drivers should take, the NHTSA says drivers should:
- Look for pedestrians everywhere.
- Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning at an intersection or driving through a crosswalk.
- Yield to pedestrians and never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
- Be careful when backing up.
When pedestrians and drivers take those tips into consideration and share the responsibility of safety, it’s possible the accident and fatality numbers could go down.
Protecting Your Future After an Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Drivers are required to operate their vehicles as safely as possible around pedestrians and bicyclists. If they fail to do so and injure someone, they should be held accountable for their actions.
Filing a pedestrian claim isn’t always simple, which is why you’ll benefit from working with an experienced law firm. When you seek legal representation from the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we’ll fight for your right to full and fair compensation for all of the suffering you wrongfully endured. To learn more about the process or to get started, contact our office today.