There is no denying the statistics. Pedestrian deaths from impact with a vehicle are on the rise. SUVs are increasingly involved. The number of pedestrians killed by SUVs has risen more than 80% in the last decade. As more and more drivers switch from regular passenger cars to SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks, the rate of pedestrian death from impact with these vehicles is sharply increasing. There are many questions at play. Why are these accidents more frequent? Why is the impact so much more severe when an SUV is involved? What can be done to help prevent these accidents? What should you do if you or a loved one is hit by an SUV driver? If the accident was caused by a negligent driver, your first step should be contacting a car accident attorney.
BIG VEHICLES, BIG IMPACT
SUVs are much bigger and heavier than regular passenger cars and are designed to make the driver feel more secure. The average weight of a passenger car is around 3,000 pounds, whereas SUVs can range anywhere from 3,700 to 7,100 pounds. SUVs also sit higher off the ground than regular cars and thus can cause more serious damage to a pedestrian since the impact of this heavier vehicle comes to the top half of the body. Hitting someone in the chest and/or head with your car can be much more damaging than running into their lower leg, for example. The results are often deadly. Pedestrian fatalities number close to 6,000 annually, and SUVs are roughly half the passenger vehicles sold today. In fact, pedestrians accounted for 52% percent of the increase in highway fatalities between the years of 2009 and 2016.
Speed limits have also been on the rise around the country, and higher rates of speed equals more serious injuries in vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents. Put simply, you're much less likely to walk away from being hit by an SUV, and there are more of them on the roads now than ever before.
PREVENTION AND REACTION
Drivers have a responsibility to avoid objects in the road and drive safely at all speeds, at all times of day. Even if a pedestrian is breaking minor traffic laws by jaywalking (crossing a road against the light) or crossing anywhere where there isn't a crosswalk, the responsibility lies with the driver to pay attention to the road and be able to stop safely or to maneuver around objects safely.
Many accidents happen at night, when driver vision may be less clear. Drivers may also be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, further impeding their ability to safely operate a vehicle. This can be a deadly combination. If you have been drinking or using drugs, or your vision is impaired when driving at night, you should not be on the road.
Pedestrians also need to be on the lookout. More and more people are walking while looking at their phones, or they proceed into intersections or cross roads without looking. Always be aware of your surroundings and never assume drivers can see you, even in the daytime.
In light of this increase, some car manufacturers are beginning to equip the front of their vehicles with airbags, to help cushion the impact if a car hits a pedestrian. Volvo already has these on some of their vehicles, and Mercedes-Benz has plans to include them on future models.
NEGLIGENT DRIVERS SHOULD PAY
Negligent drivers are often cited as being at fault for SUV-pedestrian accidents, and a number of factors come into play in terms of causation, such as the numerous causes of distracted driving. Whether a driver is talking on the phone, texting, using the radio, eating, or engaging in conversation that takes their attention off the road, even for a few seconds, tragedy can occur.
A lawyer experienced in accidents where an SUV has hit a pedestrian can represent your interests in a lawsuit seeking just compensation for your injuries. This can include not only seeking to have your medical bills paid, but also lost wages from work, the cost of mental and physical therapy and rehabilitation, and damages due to the impact on your life this type of accident can cause. If you or your loved one has been hurt in an SUV-pedestrian accident, contact our firm today to learn about your legal options through a free consultation.