Washington, D.C. — Americans love their SUVs, they now make up 60% of all new vehicle sales.
But they can come with deadly consequences.
A new report says they're behind the rising number of pedestrian deaths. And it’s not just because there are more SUVs on the road. But the number of deaths has risen by so much, the Feds are now planning to include pedestrian safety as part of its vehicle safety ratings.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the number of pedestrian deaths from SUVs has risen 81%, from 2009 to 2016.
Part of the problem is that more of us are driving them. But that's not the only reason. A number of SUVs on the road only increased by 37% percent in that same time frame.
A big part of it is their design says David Harkey, who the President of the IIHS,
"SUVs have higher and more vertical designs than passenger cars which results in them striking a pedestrian in the head or chest area."
They also tend to have more power and go faster than sedans, which increases the likelihood of a fatal injury.
But driver's visibility is also an issue.
A Consumer Reports study found the average midsize sedan has a blind spot of 13 feet for the average-height driver, and the average midsize SUV has an 18-foot blind spot.
In Cuyahoga County, where pedestrian fatalities have increased more than 163% over the past 3 and a half years, the Ohio Highway Patrol says pedestrians are also to blame.
"People crossing mid-block, or where people don't expect them to cross. Darting into traffic,’ says OSHP Lt. Rob Gable.
According to Road Safety Researchers, fatalities could be reduced though by changing adding safety features to the SUV’s.
Harkey pointed out that "Subaru vehicles equipped with front end crash prevention technology that can detect pedestrians, have been shown to reduce the number of pedestrian crashes."
But with very few of those vehicles now on the road...pedestrians and SUVs will remain a deadly mix, as Lt. Gable tells us,
“Very rarely do we go to a pedestrian crash where it doesn't involve significant injuries.”
An analysis by Consumer Reports showed that only 19% of 2017 models included the crash prevention technology as standard features. Most of them were in luxury cars.