More residents of California and the rest of the United States are choosing SUVs instead of traditional sedans. Yet, this is concerning for pedestrians, who are more likely to suffer serious injuries or fatalities when struck by these larger, heavier vehicles. As long as SUV sales figures continue to increase, the number of pedestrians dying or suffering serious injuries in crashes involving them may also continue to rise.
According to J.D. Power, about 70% of all new car sales nationwide involve SUVs. Back in 2009, only about a fifth of cars sold fell under the SUV umbrella.
Road fatality statistics
While all road deaths have decreased over the past 40 years, falling from 50,000 in 1980 to 36,560 in 2018, the number of pedestrian fatalities seen nationwide rose sharply during the last decade. Pedestrian fatalities rose 51% over the last 10 years, rising steadily from one year to the next. Currently, pedestrian fatalities count for a fifth of all road deaths.
While the size and weight of SUVs create risks should those vehicles strike pedestrians, so, too, does the fact that these vehicles carry most of their weight higher up than traditional sedans. SUVs have higher leading edges than standard passenger cars. This means that should an SUV hit a pedestrian, the pedestrian’s upper body parts or head and neck bear the brunt of the SUV’s weight.
Some automakers in other countries have begun making major changes to their vehicle designs to help reduce pedestrian fatalities. However, the United States has been slower than many other countries to make these important changes.