Today’s car buyers are increasingly choosing large trucks and SUVs over smaller, more traditional vehicles, and the number of pedestrians and cyclists dying on California and the nation’s roads is rising as a result. Larger vehicles have several features that make them especially hazardous to those traveling outside of the vehicle. While many people choose these large vehicles because they feel they keep their families safer, studies show that they increase dangers for anyone not traveling in the large vehicle.
According to Slate, SUVs and large trucks have outsold traditional cars since 2002, and the number of people choosing them has continued to increase in the years since.
How large vehicles impact fatality rates
The number of pedestrians dying on roadways across California and the nation hit a 40-year high in 2021. Studies show that, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, that pedestrian becomes between two and three times more likely to die if the car that struck him or her was an SUV. Cyclist deaths also rose 44% between 2010 and 2020, and the nation’s preference for large vehicles also had a hand in this uptick.
Why large vehicles impact fatality rates
Large cars and trucks have different body styles than traditional sedans. When a large truck or SUV hits a pedestrian, the “leading edge,” which provides the brunt of the force, is higher up than it is on a regular car. Because of this, it is more likely to cause damage to a pedestrian or cyclist’s head, neck or internal organs.
Transportation and safety officials have become increasingly aware of the link between large vehicles and the number of people losing their lives on the nation’s roadways. However, they have yet to implement major changes to help counter the rising number of road deaths.