Government accident statistics reveal that pedestrian fatalities in California and around the country rose by a worrying 53 percent between 2009 and 2018 and now account for about one in five traffic deaths, and several studies suggest that the popularity of SUVs and crossover vehicles could be one of the reasons why. One such study was completed by researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Danger gap increases with speed

After analyzing 79 accidents that took place in three Michigan cities, the researchers found that SUVs cause far more serious injuries than cars even when they strike pedestrians at low speeds. They also noticed that the dangers increased along with vehicle speeds. More than half of the pedestrians struck by cars traveling at or over 40 mph survived, but all of the pedestrians struck by SUVs traveling at these speeds were killed.

Autonomous safety systems

The issue seems to be the way SUVs are designed. The taller and blunter front ends of SUVs push pedestrians forward where the sharper noses of cars tend to lift pedestrians up. Some experts hope that autonomous safety systems that scan for road hazards and brake automatically could lower pedestrian fatality rates, but the results of initial tests are not promising. When the technology was tested in 2019, it was found to work inconsistently at night and hardly at all at speeds of more than 30 mph.

Pedestrian accident lawsuits

Drivers who strike pedestrians often claim that they had the right of way. When representing pedestrian accident victims, experienced personal injury attorneys may expect this argument and gather evidence to refute it. Attorneys could study police reports to learn what investigators concluded, and they may also visit the scene to look for security cameras that could have recorded the accident.