Pedestrians in Virginia may be in greater danger from SUVs than from other types of vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Overall, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. In 2016, they were at their highest number since 1990. From 2009 to 2016, the years studied by the IIHS, they were up in all circumstances, but SUVs hit and killed pedestrians at an average annual increase that was 3 percent higher than all the other types of vehicles combined.
Researchers theorize a number of different reasons both for the increase in pedestrian deaths and for the involvement of SUVs. From 2009 to 2016, registered SUVs increased in number by 37 percent. Because of the size of SUVs, they are more likely to injure pedestrians than smaller vehicles. Their designs, which often include a higher and more vertical front end, are also a factor. This means that SUV victims are more likely to be struck in the chest or head than the legs.
People are also walking more. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of people who reported that in the past week they had commuted to work by walking rose from 3.3 million to 4.2 million. Speeding and road design are also issues. Some manufacturers are starting to add airbags that protect pedestrians.
Even in nonfatal motor vehicle accidents, pedestrians can be seriously injured by SUVs, trucks or cars. If this happens, the driver may be financially responsible for costs associated with the injury. If the injured person is not offered enough compensation, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the driver. An attorney could help a plaintiff with this process.