2019 was the deadliest year for U.S. pedestrians since 1988. One of the many explanations offered by researchers and safety advocates was the increase in the number of larger vehicles on our roads.
Though larger vehicles like SUVs offer more protection to their occupants than many smaller passenger car counterparts, they’re far more deadly to pedestrians.
But if you’re not convinced that “safer” vehicles are contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths, consider this statistic reported by Bloomberg News: pedestrian deaths increased by 35% from 2008 to 2017, while the number of all other traffic deaths decreased by 6%.
SUVs Are More Likely to Kill Pedestrians
A recent study found that once vehicle speeds reach 20 MPH, SUVs are far deadlier for pedestrians than smaller passenger cars. And the faster an SUV travels, the deadlier it is for pedestrians.
At speeds of 20-39 mph, 30% of pedestrian collisions involving SUVs caused a pedestrian fatality, compared with 23% of collisions involving cars. At 40 MPH and higher, all pedestrian collisions involving SUVs killed the pedestrian, compared with 54% of pedestrian collisions involving cars.
Vehicle Technology Still Struggles to Identify Pedestrians
Before we cast all the blame solely on larger vehicles, we should note that it’s not just SUVs that pose threats to pedestrians. Advanced technologies intended to make drivers and passengers safer are sorely lacking when it comes to pedestrian safety.
AAA tested automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection alerts on a closed course with dummy in place of pedestrians. The test was conducted during daylight hours at only 20 MPH, yet the vehicles still struck the dummies 60% of the time.
When the dummies were swapped with smaller, child-size versions, the vehicles struck the smaller dummies 89% of the time. When the tests were conducted at night, none of the vehicles detected the presence of the pedestrian-simulating dummies.
Despite Current Limitations, Technology Might Improve Pedestrian Safety
Technology still offers hope for a day where pedestrians can walk the streets without fear of being struck. In some cases, technology’s impact would be indirect; for example, ignition interlock devices can already prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, one of the most common contributing factors in pedestrian collisions.
And pedestrian detection technology could, with significant improvements, one day help make roads safer for those traveling by foot. But until that technology proves effective, it’s up to drivers to be more mindful when driving in the vicinity of pedestrians and especially near crosswalks and intersections.
If You’ve Been Struck by a Vehicle in Boston, Jason Stone Can Help
In 2018 alone, 680 pedestrians in Boston were struck by vehicles. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we believe our city can do better. And we want to help injured pedestrians to make sure they get the compensation they’re entitled to.