Safety advocates in New York and across the country keep a close eye on the trends and statistics related to traffic injuries and fatalities. They are gratified to see that fatal motor vehicle accidents are generally declining across the United States. The downside is that accidents involving pedestrians are more likely to result in fatal injuries. Researchers point to the ever-increasing popularity of SUVs.
Newer models of SUVs may have many features that improve the comfort and safety of their drivers and passengers. They also reduce the likelihood of injury for occupants of smaller vehicles involved in accidents with SUVs. However, these safety features apparently do little toward the safety of pedestrians. The heavier and boxier late-model SUVs may be more deadly when they strike a pedestrian for the following reasons:
- The impact is more likely to propel the pedestrian forward.
- Lower grille, bumper and headlights on newer SUVs more often make contact with the pedestrian.
- Impact with an SUV may result in severe injuries to the hip and thigh.
- Block-front SUVs may strike a pedestrian’s legs first then the chest, sending the force of the crash into the victim’s body.
One study showed that an SUV striking a pedestrian at 40 mph or more is generally 100% fatal. At the same speed, a smaller vehicle hitting a pedestrian may result in death only 54% of the time. While manufacturers of SUVs are working on external safety features to protect pedestrians, for now, those on foot near traffic would be wise to remain alert for fast-moving SUVs.