The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is one of the respected organizations in motor vehicle safety. So people paid attention when a recent study announced that pedestrian deaths have jumped 46 percent since 2009 (a low point for pedestrian deaths) to a total of nearly 6,000 fatalities in 2016. This is the highest number of deaths since 1990.
It went on to add that motor vehicle crashes are not only becoming more deadly, but they are also becoming more frequent. The sites for the biggest increase of these events have been urban and suburban areas at the middle of blocks where arterials funnel traffic to highways. It is most dangerous for pedestrians when it is dark.
SUVs lead the way
The above statistics include all motor vehicles, but while cars were involved in the highest number of fatal single-vehicle crashes, SUVs increased the most with 81 percent. There are a number of reasons why this happened:
- SUVs are harder to safely maneuver: These vehicles tend to be larger, heavier and often are top heavy. Because of the size, they take more room and time to stop.
- SUVs often have larger engines: The manufacturers' are now putting larger or performance style engines in these vehicles so they have a higher power to weight ratio.
- More blind spots: These vehicles typically sit up higher, which can mean more blind spots, even in front.
Increase in speeds also an issue
The IIHS says that general speed at which drivers go has continually increased on both highways and surface roads. The faster speeds mitigate the above issues for SUV drivers because it is harder to respond to hazards. The IIHS recommends reducing speed limits and using automated cameras to increase enforcement.
Designs could be improved
There are a number of changes that manufacturers can make to improve the safe operation of these vehicles. These recommendations include:
- Better headlamps to spot pedestrians on dark streets
- Better sensors to help detect obstacles, hazards and pedestrians
- The lower the front end designs of these vehicles, whose higher front increases the severity of injury to those hit
It is best to be careful
Pedestrians can exercise more caution when crossing the road, particularly when it is dark. However, it is really up to drivers and manufacturers to take safety more seriously. If they do not, victims and their families are often left with no alternative but to seek damages with help from an experienced personal injury lawyer.