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Drivers Turning in Large Vehicles May Not See Pedestrians

 Insurance Institute Study Says SUVs, Pickups hit more Pedestrians than Cars

Study says SUVs, pickups, more often fatal to pedestrians

Larger vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans pose more serious risk to pedestrians while making a turn than smaller cars due to decreased visibility.

At intersections, these larger vehicles are more likely to hit a pedestrian as well as cause more serious injuries, possibly because of their design, according to a recent study.

“It’s possible that the size, shape or location of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield could make it harder for drivers of these larger vehicles to see crossing pedestrians when they are turning,” says IIHS Senior Transportation Engineer Wen Hu.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Study

The results of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Study indicate that larger vehicles are far more likely to strike a pedestrian in the first place. They also cause more serious injuries and or deaths than a a smaller car would.

It should be pointed out that most fatal crashes involving pedestrians occur when a person is crossing the street and the driver is going straight. This is because the driver is generally going at full speed, the report said. On the other hand, a driver will slow down in order to make a right or left turn. Therefore, so most crashes involving a vehicle making a turn result in injuries rather than a death. However, the study has found that is not the case for drivers of larger vehicles due to less visibility. So when these vehicles make a turn there are more serious injuries and more deaths than crashes involving smaller cars.

These are the findings released in March this year from an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study. The results of the study are that larger vehicles may not have as clear a view at intersections and may hinder the sight of pedestrians crossing the road.

“We already know that larger vehicles cause more severe injuries when they strike pedestrians,” says IIHS Vice President of Research Jessica Cicchino, one of the study’s authors. “The link between these vehicle types and certain common pedestrian crashes points to another way that the increase in SUVs on the roads might be changing the crash picture.”

Study Results: Larger Vehicles = More Lethal Crashes

  • Larger vehicles making a left-hand turn at intersections were 2 to 4 times more likely than a car making the same turn to kill a pedestrian than they would if these same vehicles were driving straight.  SUVS had twice as many deaths than cars in these situations, but vans and minivans had triple the deaths and pickups had four times as many deaths.
  • Pickup trucks making a right-hand turn caused 89 percent deaths in similar collisions involving cars. SUVs were higher by 63 percent in these collisions.
  • Turning crashes accounted for more than 900 out of 5,800 fatal pedestrian crashes at or near U.S. intersections during 2014-18.
  • Pedestrian accidents happening along the road where the pedestrian is not crossing, also saw higher rates of deaths when an SUV or pickup truck was involved (SUVS 51%/Pickups 25%).

There are some design improvements such as AEB Systems that can detect a pedestrian and avoid a collision by reducing impact speed. Also, other improvements include hood airbags that pop up or inflate upon impact.

Pedestrian Statistics

Indeed, pedestrian crash deaths reached a low point back in 2009, but over the last decade have steadily increased nearly every year since.

In fact, the latest statistics show they are up 59 percent to 6,500 fatalities in 2020. Also, there were another 54,700 pedestrians who suffered injuries in collision that same year.

The study points to the growing prevalence of larger vehicles on our roadways as a factor in the rise. Additionally, some earlier studies have shown that A-pillars — the struts that connect the roof to the vehicle’s body on either side of the windshield — can create blind spots. These can make it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. Also, these blind spots grow larger as A-pillars become wider. Another factor is the high ride heights and longer front ends of these vehicles compared to smaller cars.

The IIHS study determined examined the outcome of certain crashes involving pedestrians hit by larger vehicles and compared them to those struck by smaller vehicles.

Additionally, they found that pedestrians were killed by larger vehicles making turns three times more often if the vehicle was a van or minivan and four times more often if it were a pickup truck compared to a car.

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