SUVs are a common part of the motor vehicle landscape here in Albuquerque and across the United States. Families love them because the vehicles can provide more room for hauling kids. People feel safer because of the larger size. The four-wheel-drive option is helpful in the winter. Some people just find them easier to get into and out of.
However, these vehicles have also been tied to the rise in pedestrian deaths, which have gone up 46 percent overall since 2009 to nearly 6,000 in 2016. According to a new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, more people are buying SUVs and more people are dying because of them – SUVs lead all categories of motor vehicles, contributing an 81 percent rise in fatalities since 2009.
Why are these accidents happening?
These fatal crashes have increased at a disproportionate number in urban and suburban areas. The higher density of people and vehicles stresses a greater need for drivers to respond to hazards. Unfortunately, the average SUV is not as nimble as the average car. This can lead to a greater chance of pedestrian injuries and death, often for the following reasons:
- Insufficient lighting: This can make it difficult to see pedestrians crossing the road, even when there is a crosswalk.
- Increased horsepower: These vehicles often come with larger engines to be powered more like a performance car, but they do not stop or handle like a performance car.
- Traffic speed is up: The speed on highways and surface roads has increased, which is bad for top-heavy vehicles that do not handle well.
- The size: Larger vehicles are harder to maneuver and often have more blind spots (including in front).
The IIHS recommends a variety of solutions for reducing both the occurrence of accidents and the severity of the injuries. These include better headlamps so vehicles’ drivers have more response time, better sensors for identifying pedestrians, cars, and other hazards. SUVs with a softer front end and lower profile will cause less damage to victims who are struck.
Victims and their families should also seek guidance from attorneys who have experience in motor vehicle crashes. They can often help secure compensation for medical bills, future medical care, and loss of income.