In the past couple of decades, sport utility vehicles have continued to grow in popularity among American consumers.

While SUVs may provide many functional benefits to owners, they may also pose significant threats to pedestrians.

U.S. sees 60% jump in pedestrian deaths

According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, the United States recorded just over 4,100 pedestrian deaths in 2009. In 2018, the nation saw a 53% increase in pedestrian fatalities. Now, based on data from January through June of 2019, the GHSA predicts the country will see a 60% jump in pedestrian deaths since 2009. In that same period of time, vehicular deaths of other persons increased by a mere 2%.

Massachusetts’ pedestrian death realities

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that pedestrians accounted for just over 13% of the state’s total vehicular deaths in 2009. That year, 46 people on foot lost their lives in automobile accidents.

In each of the five years spanning 2014 through 2018, pedestrians represented anywhere from 20% and nearly 22% of the total vehicular deaths in Massachusetts.

Bigger vehicles may contribute to bigger problems

One factor that may contribute to the increase in pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts and across the country is the prevalence of SUVs and other large passenger vehicles on the road. As vehicles get taller, a driver’s ability to see pedestrians wanes. When hit by an SUV, a pedestrian more likely experiences impact to the head or vital organs in the torso versus to their hips or legs. A pedestrian is also more likely to fall under a tall vehicle instead of onto the hood of a shorter one.