Pedestrians often feel a natural sense of fear when vehicles approach them too closely. People are often on guard when crossing the street or walking through a parking lot. It is smart to be wary of vehicles nearby, as small mistakes by a driver, like glancing down at their phone, might lead to severe injuries for a nearby pedestrian.
Even those who may be calm around the typical car might start to feel anxious in close proximity to SUVs, vans and pickup trucks. Bigger vehicles just look more intimidating, and people tend to give them a bit more space while driving and also to treat them with more caution. As it turns out, doing so actually makes excellent sense, as bigger vehicles are responsible for a significant portion of deadly pedestrian crashes.
Larger vehicles cause worse injuries
There are numerous factors that contribute to the large number of fatal pedestrian crashes caused by SUVs and trucks. One is that these bigger and heavier vehicles can potentially cause worse damage to the human body even at lowers speeds. Another consideration is how they have longer stopping distances than smaller vehicles, which may prevent them from avoiding a pedestrian. Their size and structure also create blind spots.
Another is that the drivers inside may feel more confident and therefore less observant of their surroundings because they know the size of their vehicle protects them. That sense of comfort is one reason why many people have invested in larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs. Their increasing presence on the roads is undoubtedly correlated with the notable increase in fatal pedestrian crashes in recent years.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities are up 59% from 2009 figures. This increase coincides with a massive increase in people purchasing larger vehicles, like SUVs and vans.
How can pedestrians stay safe?
Obviously, those who are out for a walk or crossing a parking lot don’t have the privilege of choosing what kind of vehicles they encounter. However, pedestrians can give a little extra space and pause for an extra second if the vehicle near them is a truck or an SUV. Recognizing the factors that may increase someone’s risk of a fatal pedestrian crash could help them make safer choices while they are out on their next walk.