Maryland motorists often choose to purchase large SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks because these vehicles have significant ground clearance and offer a commanding view of the road, but a report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in March 2022 suggests that the view from behind their wheels is not always as clear as it seems. IIHS researchers came to this conclusion after scrutinizing accident reports involving motor vehicles that struck pedestrians in intersections. The data revealed that large vehicles often strike and kill pedestrians when they make left or right turns.
According to the IIHS report, pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed by a large SUV making a left turn than a car making the same maneuver. The odds of being killed by a minivan or pickup truck making a left turn are even higher. The data reveals that minivans are three times more likely to kill pedestrians in left-turn accidents than cars, and pickup trucks kill pedestrians four times as often. When the researchers studied right-turn pedestrian accidents, they discovered that fatalities were 89% higher when pickup trucks were involved and 63% higher when pedestrians were struck by large SUVs.
It has long been known that pedestrians struck by large and heavy SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks are more likely to suffer serious injuries or lose their lives, but that does not explain why these vehicles are more likely to kill pedestrians while making turns. The IIHS speculate that the problem may lie in the thick A pillars these vehicles tend to have. The A pillars are the struts on each side of the windshield that connect a vehicle’s body with its roof. Large and heavy vehicles need very strong A pillars, and they are sometimes thick enough to completely obscure a pedestrian in a crosswalk during turning maneuvers. The IIHS researchers believe it is these blind spots that are responsible for the higher pedestrian accident fatality rates they observed.
Drivers are to blame
A pillars protect vehicle occupants in rollover accidents, so they have to be extremely strong. It would be easy to blame auto manufacturers for the high death rates in pedestrian accidents involving large and heavy vehicles, but the fault really lies with the people who drive their vehicles. Motorists are expected to remain alert and vigilant at all times, and this is particularly true when they are behind the wheels of vehicles that pose a great danger to pedestrians.