NewsTwo car types pose a higher danger to pedestrians

Two car types pose a higher danger to pedestrians

Car accident
Car accident
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ed. PJM

4:21 PM EST, November 14, 2023

SUVs and pickup trucks are most likely to be involved in fatally injuring pedestrians, according to studies undertaken by a US institute focussing on traffic safety. The risk of pedestrians losing their lives in such accidents stands 45 percent higher with these types of vehicles.

Research scientists from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) examined nearly 18,000 accidents where pedestrians were hit, as reported by CNN. Predictably, vehicles with a radiator grille height of at least 1 meter (about 39 inches) were found to carry a 45 percent increased risk of a pedestrian fatality. This risk profile includes SUVs and pickup trucks with their boxy shapes and elevated height. However, the disconcerting statistic also extends to smaller cars that sport a "box-shaped" front, which can be about 26 percent more dangerous for pedestrians, even if their overall height is medium.

The institute revealed that since 2009, fatal pedestrian accidents in the US have surged by over 80 percent. Nearly 7,400 pedestrians, or more than 20 daily, died in 2021 after being struck by a car. Factors such as excessive speed and subpar infrastructure are typically blamed, but experts suggest that the rising popularity of SUVs and pickups might also contribute to this escalation.

While the recent trend leans towards box-like, tall structures in vehicles, their form serves no purpose beyond aesthetics. "Automakers could potentially reduce pedestrian risk by redesigning the front end of vehicles, lowering the hood, and angling the radiator grille to achieve a more tapering profile," offered Wen Hu, a Senior Research Engineer with the IIHS. "Indeed, these large fronts offer no functional benefits," she emphasized.

Researchers controlled for factors that could skew injury severity, such as speed limit enforcement in an area, and personal factors such as age and gender. They also excluded vehicles fitted with autopilot braking and pedestrian detection features. The introduction of these aids is looking up for pedestrian safety, and the US Road Traffic Safety Office is proposing mandating their application.

"Our light pickups and full-size SUVs come standard with a front pedestrian braking feature, and most trim versions come equipped with high-resolution camera systems," General Motors pointed out. Ford emphasized that it has made automatic braking with pedestrian detection standards on almost all new models while also offering other emergency braking systems. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents many major auto manufacturers in the US, asserted that its members are channeling "significant investments" towards enhancing pedestrian safety.

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