Residents of Illinois and the rest of the United States are becoming increasingly partial to driving SUVs. Yet, when these large, heavy vehicles wind up hitting pedestrians, they cause much more harm than a smaller passenger car would.
According to J.D. Power, the increasing popularity of SUVs has coincided with an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries seen nationwide, and a link exists between the two.
Back in 2009, just over a fifth, or about 21%, of all cars on the roads were SUVs. However, the number of people opting for these large vehicles has risen rapidly since, with SUVs now accounting for more than 70% of all new vehicle sales. This is problematic for pedestrians because SUVs feature different body styles than smaller vehicles, making them far more dangerous. SUVs have higher front-end profiles than sedans, so they often cause substantial damage to internal organs when they hit pedestrians.
While having higher front-end profiles makes SUVs more hazardous than cars, the speed at which the car or SUV travels also factors into pedestrian fatality rates. When cars travel at 40 mph and hit pedestrians, 66% of the pedestrians struck died. When SUVs travel at 40 mph and hit pedestrians, 100% of those pedestrians die.
In response to rising SUV-on-pedestrian fatality rates, some automakers have updated or modified the body styles of their vehicles to make their front profiles lower. However, this has not yet had a notable impact on reducing pedestrian deaths.