Pedestrian Deaths Hit 28-Year High

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In 2014 SUV sales in the U.S. topped passenger sedans for the first time in history. They now account for over 60 percent of all privately-owned vehicles on the road. The sales discrepancy has reached such proportions that Fiat Chrysler has completely discontinued sales of most passenger cars in the United States and Ford has recently announced plans to do the same.

While many buyers site an increased feeling of safety in these taller heavier vehicles as one reason for buying them, it would appear that they are creating a safety crisis for the country’s pedestrians. Over the time period of 2013-2017, The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that the number of pedestrian deaths involving Sports Utility Vehicles rose an astounding 50 percent while overall pedestrian fatalities increased by only 30 percent.

Pedestrian Deaths By SUV

As the SUV trend continues to grow the projected numbers for 2018 are no more heartwarming than you would expect. The numbers are still being analyzed but with over half of 2018’s data already compiled it is now estimated that deaths by SUVs will rise another 4 percent reaching a 28-year high.

While many are quick to point to distracted driving and walking as being key factors, authorities don’t agree. As GHSA executive director Jonathan Adkins said in an interview on the subject, “It’s (SUVs) clearly a factor. We’re going in the wrong direction.”

Old News

This is not exactly new news. As far back as 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report stating that after reviewing internal documentation and citing 12 independent studies pedestrians were two to three times more likely to be killed when struck by an SUV versus a standard passenger car. The report also stated that due to the average height of an SUV or truck, pedestrians were 30 percent more likely to suffer a severe injury when struck verses lighter vehicles.

The mechanics behind these numbers are fairly easy to understand. Passenger cars with their lower bumpers and grills tend to strike below the waistline of most people throwing them up onto the hood. The higher placement of SUV frontends does the exact opposite. They strike higher and push people down and under the vehicle.

New Standards Stalled

The findings in the report coupled with its own laboratory assessments lead the NHTSA to announce at the time that it planned to overhaul its New Car Assessment Program or NCAP to include a pedestrian safety rating. These new guidelines were supposed to have gone into effect in late 2018 and apply to the 2019 model year. At the time of this writing no new guidelines have appeared nor has the administration been willing to comment as to why. Their only public statements consist of the normal bureaucratic stance that they are continuing to study the situation.

With the wealth of both internal and external data that is now been compiled and made available, it would seem the situation should be fairly clear.

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