People generally talk about newer vehicles as being safer than older ones. They are made from better materials and designed with years of crash data taken into consideration. Additionally, the federal standards have improved over the years and consumer expectations for vehicles have increased accordingly. There is little question that collision testing has become more thorough and that vehicle design has improved as a result.
However, the very features intended to protect those inside vehicles may actually make them more dangerous for pedestrians on the road. In recent years, there has been a significant uptick in the number of pedestrian fatalities that have occurred. What about modern vehicles makes them a bigger threat to pedestrians than older vehicles?
Their increasing size
The most popular vehicles on the road today include hatchbacks, SUVs, crossovers, trucks and minivans. The vehicles that received the highest safety ratings are often the biggest and heaviest. Unfortunately, those bigger vehicles can do much more damage to pedestrians even during low-speed collisions. The trend toward purchasing the biggest vehicle possible unfortunately passes much of the risk onto pedestrians.
Their blind spots
Modern vehicles that are bigger naturally have slightly larger blind spots. Not only is this a result of the increased size of the vehicle but also the decreased size of the windows. Smaller pieces of safety glass are less likely to shatter and cause severe injuries to those involved in a collision, but they also make it harder for drivers to actually see their surroundings on the road.
Smaller windshields and windows are a leading cause of collisions involving a forward blind spot. Drivers even at low speeds may move forward and strike a pedestrian because they cannot see them in front of their vehicles. Researchers call these “frontover” crashes. Such collisions are of particular concern for children and those who are relatively short.
Those who understand what causes pedestrian crashes may have an easier time minimizing their risk. They may also feel more empowered to fight back when a driver causes a tragic pedestrian collision. Learning more about what contributes to pedestrian safety risks may benefit those worried about safety or hoping to respond effectively to a recent collision.