For many motor vehicle manufacturers, the trend of “bigger is better” continues. SUVs and large trucks are popular among consumers. In fact, they currently account for about 70% of all new cars sold in the United States. But larger vehicles have also been shown to be particularly dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Statistics reveal the dangers
An investigation by the Detroit Free Press/USA Today indicates that the likelihood of death is up to three times greater when a taller and larger vehicle hits a pedestrian, compared to the likelihood of death when a smaller car is involved.
Additionally, a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association reported nearly 6,300 pedestrian deaths in 2019, a 53% increase from 2009.
Per 1 million people, 19 pedestrian deaths occur in the United States, more than doubling and tripling the pedestrian deaths in countries in the European Union. Having once outpaced the U.S. with a higher number of pedestrian fatalities – walking is more common in Europe – those countries still reduced deaths by 40% from 2007 and 2018.
While great strides have been made to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, the U.S. broadly remains more focused on accommodating motor vehicles. Lanes for walkers and cyclists exist in cities throughout the country, but the threat is still real even for pedestrians and cyclists who follow the rules of the road.
Our recent post on bicycling in New Mexico highlights some of the safety concerns of cyclists throughout the state.