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Despite Reports, Federal Safety Officials Didn't Act on Danger of SUVs to Pedestrians

A 2015 NHTSA report showed that pedestrians were multiple times more likely to die if struck by SUVs, but that information was neither shared nor acted upon.
July 20, 2018, 1pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Pedestrians and Cars

The United States has seen a rapid rise in pedestrian deaths, and reporting shows officials at the NHTSA were not forthcoming with key information on one of the causes. "A Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY NETWORK investigation found that the SUV revolution is a key, leading cause of escalating pedestrian deaths nationwide, which are up 46 percent since 2009," Eric D. Lawrence, Nathan Bomey, and Kristi Tanner report for the Detroit Free Press and USA Today. Safety regulators have been aware of this since at least 2015, but didn't move to mitigate this danger or publicize this finding.

In Europe, cars are rated by how dangerous they are for pedestrians, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had announced plans to release similar safety ratings, but that has yet to happen. In the meantime SUV sales have continued to climb, surpassing traditional sedans this year.

People are two to three times more likely to die when hit by tall SUVs than they are when they're hit by typical sedans, the NHTSA found when looking at 12 independent studies. Higher fronts on SUVs mean pedestrians are more likely to go under the wheels of SUVs than they are if they're struck by sedans which have lower bumpers. Pedestrians that are thrown onto the hood of a car are more likely to survive.

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Published on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in The Detroit Free Press
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