The number of pedestrians struck and killed by motor vehicles in Pennsylvania and around the country rose by a worrying 53% between 2009 and 2018, and many road safety experts believe that the popularity of large pickup trucks and SUVs is largely to blame. Most cars and minivans have low bumpers and sloping hoods that generally cause lower-leg injuries when they strike pedestrians at low or moderate speeds. SUVs and pickup trucks usually have higher bumpers and blunt front ends that push pedestrians forward in collisions and often cause catastrophic hip and upper-leg injuries.
Researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently studied 79 pedestrian accidents that took place in three Michigan cities. They noticed that when pedestrians were struck by cars traveling at 40 mph or faster, about half of them survived. Every pedestrian struck by an SUV traveling at these speeds was killed. The researchers also discovered that SUVs were far more likely to kill or seriously injure pedestrians when accidents took place at slower speeds.
Some SUVs now come equipped with pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems, and the IIHS believes that this kind of technology could reduce pedestrian fatalities by as much as 58%. However, a study conducted by the American Automobile Association revealed that these systems do not always work in real-world situations and are particularly ineffective at night. This is a problem because 75% of the pedestrians killed each year in the United States lose their lives in accidents that take place at night.
When negligent drivers are sued by pedestrian accident victims, they often claim that they had the right of way or accuse the plaintiff of walking into the street without looking. Experienced personal injury attorneys may prepare for these arguments by checking the accident scene for cameras that could provide juries with a compelling depiction of the events in question. Attorneys could also gather evidence by studying police reports or canvassing the area for witnesses.