Bigger cars, bigger blind spots, more carnage.
Not only is the Ford F-150 the nation's best-selling truck, but it's also held the title of the USA's top-selling vehicle for an incredible 40 years. In 2021 alone, an incredible 726,004 examples were sold; a stellar achievement when you consider the challenges facing the automotive industry.
But it's not just the Blue Oval's pickup selling in droves. American consumers cannot get enough of trucks and SUVs, with myriad examples occupying hallowed spots in the top 20 best-selling list. Their popularity does have a few downsides, though. Aside from environmental concerns, a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has shown that large vehicles pose a greater threat to pedestrians, too.
The organization's VP of research, Jessica Cicchino, said: "We already know that larger vehicles cause more severe injuries when they strike pedestrians...the link between these vehicle types and certain common pedestrian crashes points to another way that the increase in SUVs on the roads might be changing the crash picture."
An early IIHS study has proven that larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks are more deadly to pedestrians than more conventional cars. However, its latest research shows that pickups, SUVs, vans, and minivans are more likely to be involved in pedestrian-related incidents
However, its latest research shows that in specific pedestrian-related crashes (where a vehicle is performing a turn, for example) there's a higher chance that a pickup, SUV, van, or minivan is involved. Studying the most common types of single-vehicle, single-pedestrian accidents, researchers then went on to examine how larger vehicles performed in these crashes when compared to cars.
The findings are astounding. At an intersection, the likelihood of a crash killing a crossing pedestrian (involving a left turn compared with no turn) is twice as high when an SUV is involved. That number increases for vans and minivans, with the IIHS estimating the odds are three times as high. Pickup trucks increase the chances by as much as four times when compared to cars.
In an incident involving a right turn, the odds of a crossing pedestrian being killed by an SUV is 63% higher and, for trucks, 89% higher than for cars. Between 2014 and 2018, more than 900 of the estimated 5,800 fatal pedestrian crashes occurred while the vehicle was turning. Compared to cars, SUVs and pickups were linked with 51% and 25% greater chances of killing a pedestrian walking along the road compared to a crossing pedestrian.
"It's possible that the size, shape or location of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield could make it harder for drivers of these larger vehicles to see crossing pedestrians when they are turning," said the institute's Senior Transportation Engineer, Wen Hu.
These are, however, just the key points of the report and, if these figures alarm you, the full findings are well worth the read. While many may point to advanced driver aids as the solution, the organization has previously found pedestrian detection systems to be ineffective in the dark.