When you travel New Jersey’s roadways, you may notice that the majority of the cars sharing the road with you are either large trucks or SUVs. This is due to the fact that large cars have exploded in popularity since the early 1990s, with many motorists avoiding smaller sedans in favor of what they think are larger, and thus safer, vehicles. However, while larger cars may help protect the people riding inside them in the event of a crash, they pose a grave danger to pedestrians and cyclists.
According to Slate, SUVs and large trucks first began to outsell traditional sedans in 2002. They have continued to dominate the market in the years since.
How large vehicles affect pedestrians, cyclists
A study conducted in 2015 revealed just how much more dangerous large cars are to pedestrians than regular sedans. The study found that an SUV that strikes a pedestrian is between two and three times more likely to kill that pedestrian than a traditional sedan would have been. Also, the number of pedestrians dying across the nation hit a 40-year high in 2021, with pedestrian fatalities rising alongside SUVs and large truck sales.
Why large vehicles pose more of a danger to pedestrians, cyclists
The same reasons that make large vehicles safer for those riding in them make them less safe for those outside the vehicle. SUVs and oversize trucks have high “leading edges,” meaning the brunt of the force impacts a pedestrian or cyclist further up on their body than a sedan would.
Transportation and safety officials have become increasingly aware of the dangers presented by large vehicles in recent years. Yet, automakers have not yet made the body style changes that may be necessary to improve roadway safety.