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Why SUV collisions are more damaging to cyclists than car collisions

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury |

When it comes to collisions between cyclists and automobiles, cyclists almost always suffer more injuries.

Common sense dictates that cyclist collisions with larger vehicles are much more dangerous than with smaller automobiles. We know that a cyclist struck by a large truck will have it worse than one hit by a motorcycle. But what about SUVs? SUVs, short for sport utility vehicles, straddle the line between regular sedans and off-road vehicles – but how dangerous are they to the average cyclist?

How dangerous are cyclist-SUV collisions?

A new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that – to no one’s surprise – SUVs indeed cause more grievous injuries to cyclists than cars. The study found that the front ends of SUVs tend to be tall enough to knock riders down where they can be run over. By comparison, regular cars are low enough so that upon frontal impact with a cyclist, they vault the rider over the roof. While neither is a good outcome, going over a car tends to be less injurious than being run over.

What sort of injuries can you expect from an SUV collision?

While you can expect a whole world of hurt after an SUV crash, data suggests your head will not come out unharmed. The IIHS study noted that cyclist crashes with cars and SUVs resulted in injuries to the lower extremities of cyclists, head injuries being the most common. But when comparing the individual data, the average scores for head injuries caused by SUV collisions were 63% higher than for car collisions.

What can cyclists do to stay safe?

If you are a cyclist, know that any crash can be fatal, but SUVs are more dangerous than the average car. Wearing a helmet still helps, but there are other things you can consider:

  • Be mindful of the cars around you: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28.8% of all cyclist deaths related to vehicle collisions in 2020 were due to failure to yield the right of way. Ride carefully and be aware of motorists near you who may have more aggressive driving styles.
  • Wear visible clothing: The NHTSA report also found that 9.7% of all cyclist deaths due to vehicle collisions were because the cyclist wasn’t too visible. Wear bright or reflective clothing to ensure drivers can see you even in dim lighting.
  • Don’t ride on the wrong side of the road: This one may be common sense, but the NHTSA noted that 2.8% of cyclist deaths were due to riders being on the wrong side. If there are no bike lanes, stick to the right side of the right lane.

Cyclists will always be at risk of collisions, regardless of the types of automobiles they encounter. Ride responsibly and carefully and use your best judgment when cycling. If you do get into an accident while cycling, seek medical aid first before considering legal action against the driver.