Report: Bigger Cars Are Deadlier Cars

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently found that drivers of SUVs and larger trucks are more likely to hit pedestrians while turning down streets due to blind spots created by features on bigger vehicles.

Newly published research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the drivers of large vehicles, like pickup trucks and SUVs, are much more likely to hit pedestrians mid-turn than are the drivers of smaller passenger vehicles. According to an analysis by Streetsblog, the study specifically found that those drivers are “four times more likely” to hit pedestrians while turning.

Breaking the data down even further, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s study of federal car crash statistics determined that crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths “are three times more likely to involve a left turn if that motorist was piloting an SUV at the time of impact.” Accidents in which the driver is in a pickup truck are four times more likely to involve a left-hand turn; right-hand turns, meanwhile, are 89% more likely, and 63% more likely when it comes to SUVs. 

As Streetsblog describes, researchers attribute the dangerousness of these “megacars” to their design features, particularly their A-pillars: “the vertical struts on either side of the windshield that connect the roof to the body of the car.” These struts are responsible for blind spots that naturally become more problematic in bigger vehicles with bigger pillars. While car manufacturers insist these features are “necessary to prevent rollover crashes,” per the report, experts believe “skinny” pillars can have the same effect, provided they’re built from sufficiently strong material. “We really need to systematically study the impact of A-pillar design on pedestrian visibility,” one of the study’s researchers told Streetsblog.

Other design features, like height, shape, and windshield angle, can also create deadly blind spots, according to the analysis, which describes calculations that a 2021 Ford-150’s blind spots “can fit a staggering 578 preschoolers if they crowd close together.” There are additional risks posed by vehicle speed and street design, which is why certain experts have reportedly proposed the prohibition of left turns in high-pedestrian-volume areas. 

More information on megacars’ crash risk and potential mitigation measures is available via Streetsblog and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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