Friday, July 6, 2018

More SUVs = more pedestrian fatalities. They make motorcyclists less safe, too.

Last week the Detroit Free Press broke big, well-researched story on the way that America's shift from autos to SUVs, light trucks, and crossovers has resulted in a large increase in pedestrian fatalities. "The Freep" as the paper's affectionately known, has a long history of excellent automotive reporting. "Death on foot: America's love of SUVs is killing pedestrians" is another high point and proof that daily newspapers and in-depth reporting are still worth the effort
Detroit Free Press
The problem, as the Freep points out, is not that more people are being hit, it's that the people who are hit are more likely to be killed. The reason is obvious: higher hoodlines mean that pedestrians are hit in the torso, instead of the legs. The newspaper found that in other countries, auto-pedestrian strikes are gradually getting less deadly, as car makers and regulators address pedestrian survival. But over the past decade in the U.S., pedestrian deaths have climbed dramatically. According to the story...

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calculated an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs in 2009-16. The Free Press/USA TODAY analysis of the same federal data, counting vehicles that struck and killed pedestrians rather than the number of people killed, showed a 69 percent increase in SUV involvement. The assessment also showed increases each year in the proportion of fatal pedestrian crashes involving the popular vehicles.

The increased lethality of SUVs and the like has been a real sore point for me, for at least that long. Vehicle makers are obviously aware of the increased morbidity and mortality rates for pedestrians, when comparing cars with light trucks. They've been negligent for years, have rarely attempted to mitigate pedestrian impacts, and have not even warned SUV buyers that the vehicles they've chosen are far more likely to accidentally kill a pedestrian. 

Meanwhile NHTSA has been certain that SUVs are significantly more deadly to pedestrians, and especially deadly to children, since at least 2015...

Text: NHTSA Graphic: Detroit Free Press
In general, American auto makers like GM tend to treat this as a problem that can be solved with technology like Automatic Emergency Braking, and they resist considering pedestrian survival a part of overall crashworthiness.
While the Freep, and most safety researchers, have for now focused on SUV/pedestrian impacts, it's obvious that the same factors make SUVs deadlier for cyclists and motorcyclists, too.

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, I hope we'll now see a mother-fucking huge class action suit on behalf of the 6,000 pedestrians killed every year. Honda has voluntarily researched, tested and built pedestrian survival into its sedans for decades If we force other auto makers to do the same, it will only increase the survival of bicycle and PTW riders, too.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Timely , as I had an XC-90 merge into the space I was occupying with my Multistrada 2 days ago. I pulled up beside him at a traffic light and dressed him down afterward.