The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has noted an alarming trend: Pedestrians crossing the street are at increased risk of being struck by larger vehicles such as an SUV or pickup trucks, according to a recent study. The Institute cites the increasing popularity of these vehicles for the rise of pedestrians being struck by automobiles.
While the exact cause of these collisions is unclear, the Institute has suggested that wider pillars holding up the roofs of the larger vehicles may be creating a blind spot between the windshield and the cabin, making it harder for the drivers to spot pedestrians walking near the corners of their vehicle as they are making turns. Pedestrians who are standing, walking or running along the side of the road and away from intersections are also at risk of being struck. These vehicles typically have wider “A-Pillars” than other cars because of federal regulations requiring pillars wide enough to roof-strength standards to withstand the higher weights of the larger vehicles. A North Carolina study showed that large vehicles making left turns were more dangerous than right turns.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has stated that there are safer ways of increasing the strength of the pillar than enlarging them. Another suggestion was to add safety features to large vehicles such automatic emergency braking systems that can detect pedestrians. Higher hoods may also account for the drivers’ inability to spot pedestrians approaching their vehicle. In fact, the hood of a 2017 Ford F-250 heavy-duty pickup was 55 inches off the ground; that’s a height of six feet.
Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that In 2020, more than 6,500 pedestrians were killed in the U.S., a 59% increase since 2009, and a 4% increase from 2019. During that same period, an increasing number of vehicles purchased were either SUVs, vans, or pickup trucks, according to Motorintelligence.com. In 2009, these vehicles accounted for 47% of all U.S. new vehicle sales, and in 2021, more than three-quarters of new vehicle sales were light trucks. At the same time, sales of smaller and lighter sedans declined, despite their lower cost.
Most automobile manufacturers have promised to make automatic emergency braking systems standard equipment on nearly all of their new models being sold in September of this year. In addition, federal safety regulators are proposing to make these systems mandatory on all new vehicles. Ironically, many drivers choose to drive an SUV because their heavier weight makes them more stable on the road and their increased height provides them a better view of the road ahead. In addition, drivers like the increased comfort of larger seats and the convenience of more trunk space. Many automobile manufacturers have stopped making sedans in order to focus on the larger, more powerful, and more profitable SUVs.
In Florida, for 2022, there were almost 10,000 pedestrian crashes with 752 involving fatality and over 7,000 involving injury. In Palm Beach County, which is home to Boca Raton and Wellington where The Datny Law Firm has offices, there were 631 pedestrian crashes with 54 fatalities and 518 involving injury. For Palm Beach County, the numbers have increased from 2021. Nevertheless, as you can see, the increased risks and danger to pedestrians is true especially in Florida.
The above national statistics as supported by the Florida Crash Data emphasize the point that increased care around large vehicles is needed so you don’t become involved in the next traffic fatality. If you or a loved one have been hurt or killed as a pedestrian in Florida, whether by a truck, van, SUV or otherwise, do not hesitate to call The Datny Law Firm to speak directly with our Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer David B. Datny at 561-221-7474. We have extensive experience representing injured pedestrians and are available 24/7 to assist you.