In recent years, a troubling trend has emerged on Kentucky and the nation’s roadways. Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise, and a significant factor contributing to this is the increasing sales of large trucks and SUVs.
By implementing a combination of vehicle design improvements, public education and enhanced infrastructure, safety advocates and transportation officials can take steps to mitigate this growing problem and help protect pedestrians from harm.
Why large vehicle sales are rising
Large trucks and SUVs have become increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. Their spacious interiors, perceived safety and ability to navigate diverse terrains have made them a popular choice for many. Consequently, sales of these vehicles continue to climb, with more people opting for them over smaller, more compact cars.
How large vehicles threaten pedestrian safety
The proliferation of large trucks and SUVs has detrimental consequences for pedestrian safety. These vehicles are often larger, taller and heavier than traditional cars, which can make accidents involving pedestrians more lethal. The high front end of SUVs and trucks also poses a greater risk to pedestrians in a collision, increasing the likelihood of severe injuries or fatalities.
Large trucks and SUVs also lead to reduced visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. The height and bulk of these vehicles obstruct sightlines. Moreover, due to their greater mass, large trucks and SUVs require longer braking distances to come to a complete stop. This extended stopping distance can make it difficult for drivers to react quickly to sudden pedestrian movements, increasing the risk of accidents.
These days, four out of every five new vehicles sold in the United States is an SUV or large truck. Large vehicle sales first began outselling smaller cars back in 2002 and pedestrian deaths have risen steadily since as a result.