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SUV Popularity Is Killing Pedestrians In The United States

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SUVs are more likely to kill pedestrians than cars.

It's no secret that SUVs are taking over the automotive market. In 2017, the popular Toyota Camry was outsold not only by its own RAV4 sibling, but the Nissan Rogue as well. While enthusiasts mourn the loss of their sports cars and manual transmissions, the SUV boom may have another unwanted consequence. An investigation conducted by the Detroit Free Press and USA Today found that pedestrian deaths in the US are up by 46% since 2009, and the rise in SUV popularity may be the leading cause.

The entire investigation was extremely thorough and is worth a read, but here are some of the key findings: 6,000 pedestrians died on or along US roads in 2016, which is nearly as many Americans who have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Federal regulators have known for years that SUVs are at least twice as likely as cars to kill pedestrians due to their higher profile, but have done little to combat the issue. Europe's crash standards prioritize pedestrian safety, but efforts to enforce similar standards in the US have stalled. The rising pedestrian death rate is most prominent in cities, and effects minorities at a disproportionate rate.

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Of course, the study lists other possible causes for the increase in pedestrian deaths, but SUV popularity seems to be the common thread. The added height of SUVs may be great for "seeing over traffic" and giving the driver a feeling of safety, but it also means a higher collision point for a pedestrian. A collision with a car would likely injure a pedestrian by striking their leg. An SUV on the other hand, would strike them higher on their body and inflict a more serious injury. Add pedestrian deaths to the list of reasons why we prefer wagons and hatchbacks to SUVs.