In recent years, more Americans have been ditching sedans and purchasing larger sport utility vehicles (SUVs). This shift is possibly due to the increased seating and cargo capacity, better handling of inclement weather conditions, and an overall popularity of SUVs.
For years, SUVs were deemed a threat to occupants of smaller cars due to their increased size and weight, as well as their raised front end. This year, SUVs were cited by researchers as a factor in the rise of pedestrian fatalities across the United States. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, pedestrians are less likely to survive being struck by SUVs than by smaller cars.
How much of a risk do newer model SUVs pose to smaller car occupants? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says not as much as we think. In fact, smaller car occupants are more likely to sustain fatal injuries in crashes with large pickup trucks. Here's why.
SUVs don't pose a danger to smaller cars
According to IIHS researchers, from 1989-1992, occupants of cars had a 132 percent greater chance of dying in crashes with SUVs than other cars. As the years progressed, carmakers started ushering in more durable vehicle designs and safety features. That's when those numbers dropped -- significantly.
For example, from 2009-2012, the likelihood of car occupants being killed in crashes with SUVs (in comparison to other cars) fell to 59 percent. From 2013-2016 that rate dropped to only 28 percent.
According to Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research, the raised front ends on SUVs historically made front-end crash absorption on cars obsolete. Nolan was the co-author of both recent and prior IIHS research on the dangers SUVs pose to smaller cars.
Large pickup trucks still remain a fatal crash risk
Researchers have seen some improvements between SUVs and smaller cars. They have also found the opposite with large pickup trucks.
From 1989-1992, the likelihood of car occupants being killed in a crash with a large pickup truck (as opposed to another sedan) was 158 percent. That was the lowest point reported within the past three decades.
That rate rose to its highest point from 2005-2008 at 212 percent before declining. From 2013-2016, the truck/car fatal crash rate fell to 159 percent.
According to IIHS, large pickup trucks pose a risk to small cars. This is due mostly to the vast weight imbalance between the two types of vehicles.
Nolan explains how this weight imbalance, as a factor, can be mitigated.
“More sophisticated designs that do a better job of managing forces in a crash, along with electronic stability control and other crash avoidance features, have made the sheer weight of a vehicle less important,” said Nolan. “This suggests that reducing the weight of the heaviest vehicles for better fuel economy — for example, by switching from steel to aluminum — can improve safety for other road users without sacrificing occupant protection.”
If you were hurt in a car accident involving a large pickup truck, your injuries may be serious. They may require extensive medical treatment and time away from work. As the medical bills pile up and you're unable to work and earn a living, the aftermath of a crash can be financially and emotionally devastating.
Let the experienced car accident attorneys at Recht Law Offices help you build a strong legal claim and maximize your compensation. Our legal team fights on behalf of injured motorists in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. To find how we can help, contact us online today.