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Larger Vehicles Causing a Surge in Pedestrian Deaths

pedestrians crossing sign

America is seeing a sharp rise in pedestrian deaths. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 2022 saw the largest number of pedestrian deaths in over 40 years. The overwhelming reason for the rise in fatalities stems from the amount of large trucks and SUVs on the roads. Tall trucks and SUVs with blunt hoods are particularly dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these larger vehicles are 45% more likely to kill pedestrians than smaller vehicles with sloped front ends.

How Vehicle Size Can Impact Pedestrian Safety

While safety is a concern for all vehicle sizes, certain design aspects of larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, can present unique challenges in a pedestrian collision. For instance, the taller aspect of some SUVs and trucks causes the hood to be aimed squarely at the upper torso and neck of the average-sized woman. 

If you are an average-sized adult hit by a sedan, you are likely to get hit in the legs or pelvis. If you are hit by a large truck or SUV, you are most likely to be hit in the torso or even the head and neck. This is not to suggest any inherent fault with large vehicle drivers. Instead, it is a design characteristic that may contribute to the severity of pedestrian injuries.

Visibility can also be a challenge with larger vehicles. Due to the height and size of SUVs and trucks, it can be harder for the driver to gauge the vehicle's immediate surroundings, particularly objects lower to the ground. The driver may be unable to see what they hit or be unaware that they struck anything. 

Small children especially become invisible to the driver when they stand in front of these extra-large vehicles. Hundreds of children have been killed by forward-moving vehicles, most of them trucks or SUVs whose drivers simply could not see them beyond the hood of their vehicle.

NBC News recently ran a story in which their team conducted an experiment where they had a driver sit in the driver seat of a large SUV and then sat children in front of it. They got to 10 children sitting in a line in front of the vehicle before the driver could see one.

Large Vehicles Are Getting Heavier

Another problem with these vehicles is that they have become significantly heavier than they used to be. The average truck has increased in weight by 34% since 1990. Additionally, their popularity has skyrocketed, according to J.D. Power data, showing up to 80% share of new vehicle sales in recent years. This increase creates a more significant risk of injury and/or death for pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.

Combating Blind Zones in Larger Vehicles for Enhanced Road Safety

Vehicle manufacturers are in the process of trying to combat the front-end blind zones on these larger vehicles. Front-end sensors and cameras could help alert drivers to hazards and people that they may not be able to see normally when behind the wheel. 

Both drivers and pedestrians must work together to ensure that the road remains as safe as possible by following traffic rules and staying alert at all times.

When an accident leading to severe injuries or wrongful death is caused by another party's negligence or a design defect, the responsible entity could be liable for damages. If you are in Bonita Springs and are facing such a situation, call Pittman Law Firm, P.L. at (239) 603-6913 or contact us online to discuss your legal options.

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