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Are SUVs More Deadly When They Hit Pedestrians?


When a car hits a pedestrian, the results can be devastating for the pedestrian. That makes sense. Cars are large and heavy, and our bodies are no match for an oncoming vehicle. But does the type of vehicle that hits a pedestrian affect how deadly or dangerous the impact is?

SUVs May Be More Dangerous to Pedestrians

The initial answer may seem to be no. After all, your body is no match for a tiny 2-door car, the same way it is no match for an SUV. At least it would seem that way.

But a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that in fact, when SUVs hit people, the fatality rate may be higher than when a car hits a pedestrian.

The study looked at a series of accidents in Michigan that involved cars hitting pedestrians. It should be noted though that the sample size of just about 80 accidents and the limited geographic location in Michigan may not be totally conclusive.

With that in mind, the study did show that when a car on person accident happened, and when the speed of the vehicle was greater than 19 miles per hour, the fatality rate for the pedestrian was much greater than with a vehicle.

Speeds and Fatality Rates

When speeds were between 20-39 miles per hour, about 30% of car on person accidents had a fatality. For cars, that percentage dropped to about 23%. When the speed increased to over 40 miles per hour, all the crashes between the SUV and the pedestrian — 100% — resulted in a death to the pedestrian. However, the car’s fatality rate above 40 miles an hour was only 54%.

Thankfully under 20 miles per hour, both SUVs and cars had the same fatality rate of nearly zero. In most cases, pedestrians suffered only minor injuries, showing that slower speed accidents are survivable by people who are struck by cars.

In about the last 10 years, the number of people nationally killed because they were hit by a car has increased by 53%. Almost 1/5 of all fatalities in traffic accidents happen when cars hit people, a remarkably high number, and one that hasn’t been so high since the 80s.

Why are SUVs More Dangerous to Pedestrians?

We don’t know why SUV on pedestrian accidents are more deadly, but there are theories. Certainly, the weight of an SUV is more likely to throw a body, meaning that aside from a body absorbing the impact from the SUV itself, the person’s body also has to absorb the impact of landing on the ground.

Additionally, an SUV is more likely to hit a pedestrian higher, where the hips, pelvis or internal organs are, whereas a car hits lower, which, while dangerous, may be less deadly.

Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, today if you are injured as a pedestrian, or if a car hits you causing your injuries.   



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