The large pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans that are so popular with motorists in New Mexico and around the country have been linked with a worrying rise in pedestrian fatalities, and the results of a study published in March 2022 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that they pose the greatest danger to those who travel on foot when they make turns at intersections. The overall increase in pedestrian deaths linked to these vehicles is blamed on their blunt front-end designs, but the turning fatalities are thought to be caused by large blind spots that prevent drivers from seeing people in crosswalks.
Deadly pedestrian accidents
The IIHS researchers based their findings on pedestrian accident data gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. When they compared fatality rates in accidents involving large vehicles compared to accidents where pedestrians were struck by cars, they discovered that pedestrians are:
- Twice as likely to be killed by an SUV making a left turn
- Three times as likely to be killed by a van or minivan making a left turn
- Four times as likely to be killed by a pickup truck making a left turn
- Struck and killed by SUVs making a right turn 63% more often
- Struck and killed by pickup trucks making a right turn 89% more often
After scrutinizing the data, the researchers concluded that large pickup trucks and SUVs killed pedestrians in intersections more often because the way they are designed creates blind spots, and they put most of the blame on thick A-pillars. These are the posts on each side of a vehicle’s windshield that connect the body to the roof. The A-pillars in SUVs and pickup trucks are engineered to support a lot of weight, which means they have to be large and sturdy.
Vulnerable road users
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and they take risks whenever they cross streets at intersection where vehicles are making left or right turns. These dangers are magnified even further when the vehicles making turns are large SUVs or pickup trucks with sturdy A-pillars that create blind spots for their drivers. This is why pedestrians should approach intersections with caution and remain vigilant when they cross city streets.