Pedestrian safety is of utmost importance in a walkable city like Chicago. According to past research, large vehicles pose the highest risk to Chicago pedestrians. When a person traveling on foot is suddenly hit by a vehicle, the force of impact can result in severe or fatal injuries.
Researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have identified a possible link between the growing popularity of large vehicles on U.S. roads and increased pedestrian deaths nationwide. The new study found that SUVs and pickup trucks are more likely than cars to strike pedestrians while making turns.
In recent years, pedestrian crash fatalities have continued to skyrocket. There were 6,519 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2020, the latest year for which complete data is available. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatalities mark a 4 percent rise from 2019 and a 59 percent increase from 2009.
At the same time, sales data indicate large vehicles have become more popular among U.S. drivers over the years. Light trucks accounted for over 75 percent of new vehicle sales in 2021. SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks made up around 47 percent of recent vehicle sales in 2009.
The study identified design features in large vehicles that may contribute to pedestrian accidents. SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks typically have wider A-pillars than cars to support the roof and protect occupants in rollover crashes. A-pillars can create blind spots, making it harder for drivers of large vehicles to see pedestrians when they are turning.
Other design factors of large vehicles can also affect a driver’s ability to spot pedestrians. For example, Consumer Reports found that high hoods blocked drivers’ views of pedestrians crossing in front of their vehicles. Pickup truck hood heights have increased 11 percent since 2000.
An author of the IIHS study stated that while large vehicles require sturdy A-pillars, automakers can use solutions like more vital metals to boost strength without increasing the size of the A-pillar. The institute said more research was needed to examine the links between vehicle design, blind spots, and increased pedestrian deaths. The researchers suggested adding automatic emergency braking systems and improving vehicle design to boost pedestrian safety.
If a pedestrian is hit by a larger vehicle, they are at high risk of serious injuries. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Illinois, contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers can determine whether you are eligible to pursue compensation for your medical bills and other accident-related costs.