Walking has morphed from a healthier alternative, that’s kinder to the environment, into a dangerous activity with a total of over 5,987 pedestrian deaths in the United States in the year 2016 alone. As dismal as that sounds, pedestrian deaths have been surging over the past decade. Chicago, in particular, has incurred 44 pedestrian deaths in 2016, up 26 percent since 2014. Within that time, several reasons, some of them particularly glaring, have come to light. Poor infrastructure, bad road designs, distractions in the form of smart phones, to name a few, have been named culprits in the growth of pedestrian deaths.
Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer agrees that the abovementioned reasons are still ongoing issues that need to be addressed properly, however a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has unearthed new statistics highlighting the connection between SUVs and pedestrian deaths. As it turns out, among all types of vehicles, SUVs accounted for an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities. SUVs, with their size, built and horsepower can inflict worse injuries to the head and chest than any other type of vehicle. Hampton Clay Gabler, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, wrote in a school paper that SUVs and pickups tend to be tall compared with pedestrians and have a blunter front end. That positioning is more likely to put someone’s head or chest in line to be struck during the initial impact with a vehicle. All the more concerning is that SUVs have surpassed sedans as the best selling vehicles in the US market, up to forty percent in 2017, which puts more pedestrians at risk.
The automobile industry has been slow to respond but many of them are making moves towards the creation of more vehicle safety features and incorporating them in their fleet. The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that advanced automatic braking has been gaining popularity with brands like Tesla, Volvo and Mercedez Benz making this life-saving feature a standard in all of their models. Others like Chrysler and Ford only have a percentage of their fleet with this technology. As with most introduction to new technologies, there is the initial resistance but if auto companies commit and adapt to these changes and motorists are more educated, we can delve a blow to the tragic trajectory of pedestrian deaths in the future and protect the most vulnerable members of our population.