Americans used to choose the family sedan over basically any other vehicle on the market, but in the past decade,as a body style. While consumer choices create plenty of reverberations across the auto industry, a new study shows the growing number of SUVs on the road could actually contribute to higher death rates in .
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published new research Tuesday that suggests SUVs are more lethal than a passenger car in the event of a pedestrian crash. While IIHS acknowledges that its sample size was small -- it examined 79 crashes that took place in Michigan -- the data draws a wide contrast. The insurance industry-funded safety body also said it plans to continue studying crashes and research SUVs and pedestrian deaths.
Overall, SUVs caused more serious injury to pedestrians than a passenger car at speeds over 19 mph. In crashes with SUVs traveling 20 mph to 39 mph, 30% of crashes resulted in a pedestrian fatality. That's compared with 23% of crashes resulting in a pedestrian's death that involved a car.
At speeds over 40 mph, a crash involving a pedestrian in the sample size resulted in the pedestrian's death 100% of the time, if the subject vehicle was an SUV. A fatality occurred only 54% of the time when such a crash involved a car and a pedestrian. Though again, this is a small sample.
Since 2008, pedestrian deaths have been slowly increasing through 2018, which is the last year for which full data is available. Pedestrian fatalities increased 53% over the 10-year period. Meanwhile, vehicle registration shows SUVs increased their share of the US vehicle fleet by 8%.
Although automakers have absolutely taken to more carlike designs for so many SUVs and crossovers, the changes largely benefit other drivers in the event of a crash, which the IIHS notes. In addition to researching pedestrian and SUV crashes more closely, the IIHS also plans to identify what SUV profile poses the least risk to a pedestrian.