Many consumers prefer to purchase sport utility vehicles for the safety these larger vehicles provide to occupants. Unfortunately, it seems that for people outside, especially those on foot, SUVs may be anything but safe.
Results of a study conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety indicate that more pedestrians die after being hit by SUVs than after being hit by other cars.
Comparing pedestrian impacts from SUVs and cars
Test scenarios including cars driving at 40 miles per hour or faster resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 54% of cases. In contrast, scenarios with SUVs operating at the same speeds resulted in pedestrian deaths in every single case.
At speeds below 40 miles per hour and down to 20 miles per hour, pedestrians died after being hit by cars 23% of the time. Pedestrian deaths increased to 30% of test scenarios when SUVs were substituted for cars.
Pedestrian detection systems insufficient to prevent impact
Many new vehicles today feature pedestrian detection systems that utilize radio and light detection and cameras to identify pedestrians before an impact occurs. When coupled with automatic braking systems, the goal is that vehicles will stop prior to hitting the pedestrians.
Sadly, a study conducted by AAA found these combined safety systems failed to prevent pedestrian collisions more often than not. Some tests were conducted at night when the bulk of pedestrian fatalities occur. The results were so poor that AAA deemed the technologies completely ineffective in dark conditions.
In broad daylight and a speed of only 20 miles per hour, an adult-sized pedestrian dummy was hit six out of 10 times by a test vehicle.