Pedestrian deaths have risen sharply across New Jersey and the rest of the nation in recent years, and research suggests that the growing popularity of SUVs is at least somewhat to blame. As the number of SUVs sold and driven by Americans increased, so, too, did the number of pedestrians dying after having these large, heavy vehicles strike them.
According to J.D. Power, pedestrian fatalities increased by 53% during the last decade. This held true even while all types of road deaths fell substantially during this span. Nowadays, pedestrian deaths make up about 21% of all American road deaths.
Why SUVs are more dangerous
In comparison to traditional sedans and passenger vehicles, SUVs have much different body styles. They have higher front profiles or leading edges, and this makes them more of a threat because a pedestrian takes the brunt of an SUV’s impact higher up on his or her body.
Why speed plays an important role
While whether a car or SUV strikes a pedestrian impacts fatality risks, so, too, does the speed at which the vehicle is moving. When cars and SUVs both move at 19 mph and hit pedestrians, pedestrians hit by SUVs moving at 19 mph suffer far more serious injuries than those hit by cars moving at the same speed. When both types of vehicles meet or exceed 40 mph, 54% of those hit by sedans die in comparison with 100% of those hit by an SUV.
In response to rising pedestrian death rates, some automotive manufacturers are exploring changing their vehicle designs to make their SUVs less of a threat to those traveling on foot.