SUVs: Safe for Drivers, Deadly for Pedestrians There has been a pronounced uptick in people purchasing larger and larger vehicles. The main reason that is cited for this increase is safety. However, buying a large car does not mean that everyone else around you is safe. It only means the people inside the vehicle are secure. As a pedestrian, you should be wary of all vehicles, especially large vehicles around you. Pedestrians and cyclists on the road are in mortal danger when large vehicles are around.

A recent study by Economics of Transportation found that pedestrian deaths increased by 30 percent nationwide. Pedestrians are not the ones to blame for accidents. Everyone must share the road, including drivers and pedestrians. Drivers of these large vehicles must pay attention and ensure they are aware of their surroundings. If an accident occurs, you will need a Knoxville pedestrian accident attorney to advise you of your legal options.

A surge in pedestrian deaths

As more and more large vehicles hit the streets, more pedestrian deaths will result. It has been found that when one of these larger vehicles strikes a pedestrian, they are two to three times more likely to kill them. The saddest part is that most victims are toddlers and small children. They will often be crossing the street, and a large vehicle will not see them.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has found that accidents involving an SUV striking a pedestrian resulted in a fatality increase of 81 percent between 2009 and 2016. The study also found the following:

  • Vans are 45% more likely to hit pedestrians
  • SUVs are 61% likely to hit pedestrians
  • Pickups are 80% likely to hit pedestrians

These figures are in comparison to the likelihood of smaller vehicles striking pedestrians. One of the most dangerous areas where these accidents occur is when a car is making a turn. Right turns are perilous. The line of sight of a truck is to blame. Pedestrians are typically waiting to cross the street at an intersection. An oncoming truck or SUV might not see the pedestrian begin to walk as they turn, resulting in tragedy.

Big cars result in manslaughter charges

The definition of large vehicles has shifted over the years. There is now a light truck vehicle category that includes minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Passenger cars used to be the norm on the road, but that has shifted over the past decade. Drivers purchased SUVs and crossovers 50 percent of the time in 2020, and trucks were 20 percent of vehicle purchases. That brings us to 70 percent of all vehicles on the road. This number does not include commercial vehicles. The result is that pedestrians, cyclists, and smaller vehicles are outnumbered and in danger.

At the time of this writing, there are no federal regulations regarding the size of a vehicle. This size difference can equal a death sentence for pedestrians. If a driver does strike a pedestrian or cyclist and they pass away, they are charged with manslaughter. If you or your loved one have been the victim of a pedestrian accident, you need to discuss your options with a Knoxville pedestrian accident attorney.

Why are these vehicles so dangerous for Knoxville pedestrians?

With all of the technological advances, you may be wondering why larger vehicles are so dangerous. These vehicles weigh significantly more than most other vehicles on the road. The weight difference between a truck and a pedestrian or cyclist can be tragic in an accident. Newer vehicles are much heavier than older ones. The sheer weight is enough to cause a fatality.

Another reason why these vehicles are so dangerous is there is poor visibility. These vehicles are much taller and further away from the ground, meaning drivers cannot always see what is directly in front of them. The standard height of the front end of a truck is the size of the roof of a passenger vehicle. That causes a direct hit to the shoulders or head of a pedestrian. The tires are often as tall or taller than pedestrians. The size of tires results in pedestrians being crushed by the wheels of a truck, often ending in death. You will need to contact a Knoxville pedestrian accident attorney to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions.

Drivers are not aware of the dangers to others when they purchase a vehicle. Their focus is often on how they will stay safe on the road and not the effect on those around them. Drivers often assume that all of the safety features in newer vehicles are sufficient to keep everyone on the road safe. While technology has advanced, many manufacturers have not considered pedestrians in their efforts.

Automatic braking and pedestrian detection are not standard in large pickup trucks. These features are an additional cost that many drivers are unwilling to pay and are not required to have. Sadly, that extra cost could save lives.

These large vehicles do not only affect pedestrians on the road but also passenger vehicles. Vehicle manufacturers have made some efforts to lower the front profile of these vehicles. The intention is to minimize injuries that other drivers will experience if they are in an accident. However, this does not solve the issue of striking a pedestrian or cyclist. These individuals are still in grave danger. Manufacturers must also make design changes regarding pedestrian safety.

Researchers suggest that vehicle design should be considered, and so should infrastructure and speed limits. If all of these issues are addressed, this can make the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. In the meantime, however, thousands of pedestrians will suffer permanent medical consequences. You need a competent Knoxville pedestrian accident attorney to hold drivers and other responsible parties liable for these tragic accidents. Call the office of Banks & Jones at 865-546-2141, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation today.