Tall Vehicles Heighten Pedestrian Risk

Recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals a concerning trend: vehicles with taller front ends, such as pickups, SUVs, and vans, pose a significantly higher risk to pedestrians. The study, encompassing nearly 18,000 pedestrian crashes, found that vehicles with a hood height exceeding 40 inches are about 45% more likely to cause pedestrian fatalities compared to cars with lower and sloping hoods.

Why It Matters

Pedestrian safety is a growing concern, with pedestrian deaths surging by 80% since 2009. The rise in vehicle size over the past decades – with passenger vehicles becoming larger and heavier – correlates with this increase in fatalities. This research provides critical insights into how vehicle design, particularly height and front-end shape, directly impacts pedestrian safety.

Key Points

  • Increased Fatalities: Vehicles with hood heights over 40 inches are 45% more likely to cause pedestrian fatalities.
  • Design Matters: The study highlights that the risk isn’t just about height – the angle of the vehicle’s front end plays a crucial role. Blunt, vertical fronts on medium-height vehicles increase pedestrian risk.
  • Larger Fleet, Greater Danger: The U.S. vehicle fleet has grown in size, contributing to a rise in pedestrian deaths.
  • Research Methodology: IIHS’s comprehensive study involved analysis of 17,897 pedestrian crashes, considering factors like vehicle size, shape, and pedestrian demographics.
  • Solutions Suggested: Manufacturers are urged to design vehicles with lower front ends and sloped profiles to reduce risk.

Bottom Line

The IIHS study underscores a clear link between vehicle size, shape, and pedestrian safety. As pedestrian fatalities rise, this research calls for an urgent reevaluation of vehicle design standards, urging manufacturers to prioritize pedestrian safety in their designs. The findings suggest that making vehicles less intimidating and more pedestrian-friendly could be a vital step in reducing pedestrian fatalities.


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