Large Trucks, SUVs Far More Dangerous to Pedestrians While Turning Than Cars, IIHS says

Massive, vision-blocking A-pillars are among the likely culprits.

Craig Cole Former reviews editor
Craig brought 15 years of automotive journalism experience to the Cars team. A lifelong resident of Michigan, he's as happy with a wrench or welding gun in hand as he is in front of the camera or behind a keyboard. When not hosting videos or cranking out features and reviews, he's probably out in the garage working on one of his project cars. He's fully restored a 1936 Ford V8 sedan and then turned to resurrecting another flathead-powered relic, a '51 Ford Crestliner. Craig has been a proud member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
Craig Cole
2 min read
IIHS Trucks and SUVs More Dangerous to Pedestrians - traffic
Enlarge Image
IIHS Trucks and SUVs More Dangerous to Pedestrians - traffic

Be careful out there.

Continental AG

Bigger vehicles can be safer in crashes. Cocooning yourself and your family in tons of steel and plastic can certainly reduce the risk of injuries in a wreck, but large SUVs , trucks and minivans aren't always better if you're a pedestrian.

According to a study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, outsized vehicles are more likely than smaller cars to hit pedestrians while making turns. This is likely because it's more difficult for drivers to see out of SUVs and trucks. 

"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," Wen Hu, a senior transportation engineer at the safety-focused group, said in a statement.

The data supporting this claim is telling. "The odds that a crash that killed a crossing pedestrian involved a left turn by the vehicle versus no turn were about twice as high for SUVs, nearly three times as high for vans and minivans and nearly four times as high for pickups as they were for cars," according to the IIHS.

As for right turns, it's a similar story. Compared with cars, the odds of a crash that killed a pedestrian were 89% higher for trucks and 63% greater for SUVs. These types of large vehicles are also more likely to hit pedestrians walking or running alongside the road, a type of collision where no turn is involved.

Unfortunately, deaths of pedestrian in crashes have been on the rise. Such deaths increased 59% from 2009 to 2020 (the latest year this data is available), reaching more than 6,500 fatalities in 2020. In addition to the deaths, about 54,700 pedestrians were injured in collisions that year.

It's hard to say why these injuries and fatalities are on the rise, but roof-crush safety standards in conjunction with the ever-increasing weight of vehicles could be prime culprits. The changes have led to vehicle roof pillars growing into vision-blocking monstrosities. Compare a modern vehicle's A-pillars with those from 20 or 30 years ago, and you'll clearly see how much bigger the roof supports have become.

What can we do about this problem? The IIHS said that more research is needed, though additional safety equipment and redesigned roadways may help reduce vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions.

2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer: The full-size fancy-pants Jeep

See all photos
Watch this: Kids Will Love the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee With Amazon Fire TV