February 17, 2022

Big Trucks Kill More Pedestrians

Big Trucks Kill More Pedestrians

To put it simply, vehicles are taller and heavier than those produced in past decades. A recent article on Oregon Live goes into this sad topic of rising dangers and death tolls for pedestrians. Unfortunately, the taller heavier vehicles are causing more pedestrian deaths and injuries. This trend is largely associated with the increased demand for SUVs and trucks and the increased size of those SUVs and trucks.

As we have noted in other blog posts safety testing for vehicles is slowly changing. However, the tests focus on occupant safety. The frontal crash prevention rating of the IIHS is one of the few tests that even consider pedestrians. This is part of why road safety is going up for people in vehicles, but down for people outside of them. What are the consequences of this going to be?

Newer Vehicles Are Deadlier To Pedestrians

As car accident attorneys our law firm knows all about car accidents, including how they impact pedestrians. Here at Johnson Law, we work with personal injury claims.

Simply put, we fight insurance companies. We fight them on behalf of normal injured people. Moreover, our lawyers work on contingency. That is to say, if we can't get you a win, we don't get paid. The whole goal is to help clients more fully recover from a personal injury claim.

We're seeing an increased number of personal injury claims from pedestrians hit by these larger vehicles.

Trucks and SUVs are deadlier to pedestrians

Here's why and what can be done:

Trucks and SUVs are becoming increasingly popular vehicles, but they also pose a greater danger to pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), trucks and SUVs were involved in 30% of all pedestrian fatalities in 2021, even though they only make up about 30% of the vehicles on the road.

There are a number of reasons why trucks and SUVs are more deadly to pedestrians. First, they are larger and heavier than cars, which means they have more momentum and can deliver more force in a collision. Second, trucks and SUVs often have higher ground clearance, which can mean that they strike a pedestrian in the head or chest, rather than the legs. Third, trucks and SUVs often have larger blind spots than cars, which can make it more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians.

There are a number of things that can be done to make trucks and SUVs safer for pedestrians. One is to require them to be equipped with features such as pedestrian detection systems and automatic emergency braking. Another is to lower the front ends of trucks and SUVs, so that they are less likely to strike pedestrians in the head or chest. Finally, cities and towns can make their streets safer for pedestrians by installing crosswalks, sidewalks, and other pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

Here are some additional unique insights into why trucks and SUVs are deadlier to pedestrians:

  • Trucks and SUVs are more likely to hit pedestrians at higher speeds. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that trucks and SUVs are more likely to hit pedestrians at speeds of 40 mph or higher, which is more likely to result in a fatality.
  • Trucks and SUVs are more likely to roll over after hitting a pedestrian. A study by the University of Michigan found that trucks and SUVs are more likely to roll over after hitting a pedestrian, which can increase the severity of the pedestrian's injuries.
  • Trucks and SUVs are more likely to cause underride accidents. An underride accident is a type of accident in which a smaller vehicle collides with the rear of a truck or SUV and slides underneath it. Underride accidents are often fatal for occupants of smaller vehicles, including pedestrians.

Here are some things that pedestrians can do to protect themselves from trucks and SUVs:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to traffic, especially when crossing the street.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street to make sure they see you.
  • Cross the street at crosswalks and intersections, where drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.
  • Avoid crossing the street in front of trucks and SUVs whenever possible.
  • If you must cross the street in front of a truck or SUV, make sure it has come to a complete stop before crossing.

Automatic braking systems

Automatic braking systems can help reverse this trend. An IIHS study found promising results. Vehicles equipped with automatic braking systems that detect pedestrians have a 27 percent lower rate of pedestrian crashes when compared with other vehicles. That is why the inclusion of such systems is starting to be considered more heavily in vehicle safety ratings.

Treatment when hit by truck or SUV

If you are involved in an accident with a truck or SUV, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not feel injured. Truck and SUV accidents can cause serious injuries that may not be immediately apparent. You should also contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.

Oregon Vehicle Size Laws

Some people think these vehicles must be illegal if they're killing so many people. However, that isn't the case. Various state and local laws regulate bumper height. It can be confusing knowing the different rules throughout the United States.

Luckily one website liftlaws consolidates most of these for those wanting a taller vehicle. However, a lot of these rules have exceptions. Trucks and SUVs often fall into these exceptions. So trucks and SUVs can, and do, have taller front-ends than would normally be legally allowed.

Oregon Bumper Height Law

Oregon state law actually has no laws specifically limiting how tall a bumper needs to be. Also, there are no state restrictions directly on lifting a truck's suspension. However, there are indirect controls such as maximum vehicle height and minimum frame height.

ORS 818.080 states the maximum size limits for vehicles.

An interesting note is our neighbor Washington State does restrict bumper height. You can see this in WAC 204-10-022 for more information on their restrictions.

An interesting article goes into how big newer trucks and SUVs really are getting. They are similar in size (but not weight) to certain WW2 tanks. They're actually bigger in some dimensions! Vehicle height laws may need to be changed if this trend continues.

IIHS Study Highlights

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a car testing non-profit backed by auto insurance companies. A 2018 report detailed the rise in pedestrian deaths. A more recent 2020 report suggests the rise in deaths is due to SUVs and Trucks. The issue is getting more and more attention over time.

SUV and Truck Driver Pedestrian Safety

Americans love their large vehicles. So it is likely we're going to see more SUVs and trucks, not less. So what can we do as good community members if we choose to drive these large vehicles? Plenty! SUV and truck drivers can do a number of things to help protect pedestrians, including:

  • Slow down. Speed is a major factor in pedestrian fatalities. SUV and truck drivers should slow down in areas where pedestrians are likely to be present, such as crosswalks, intersections, and school zones.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. SUV drivers have larger blind spots than cars, so it is important to be extra aware of your surroundings. This includes checking your mirrors and blind spots before turning or changing lanes.
  • Yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections. SUV drivers must yield to pedestrians at these locations.
  • Use your turn signals. SUV drivers should use their turn signals well in advance of turning or changing lanes. This will help pedestrians to predict your movements and stay safe.
  • Be mindful of your parking. SUV drivers should avoid parking in front of crosswalks or driveways. This can block the view of pedestrians and drivers, and make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross the street safely.

In addition to these general tips, SUV drivers can also take steps to make their vehicles safer for pedestrians. For example, SUV drivers can install pedestrian detection systems and automatic emergency braking systems. These systems can help to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

SUV drivers can also help to make their communities safer for pedestrians by advocating for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. This includes things like crosswalks, sidewalks, and protected bike lanes.

By following these tips, SUV drivers can help to protect pedestrians and make their communities safer for everyone.

Free Consultations

We will review your case for free.

No Win, No Fee

Pay us nothing unless we get you a better settlement.

No Up-Front Fees

We work on contingency.

Your Questions Answered

Personal Injury consultations are free and come with no obligation. Request yours now.
(971) 205-3266
1323 NE Orenco Station Pkwy
Suite #210
Hillsboro, OR 97124


    linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram