Are SUVs Safer Than Sedans? Not If You’re a Pedestrian. | Scott Goodwin Law

Are SUVs Safer Than Sedans? Not If You’re a Pedestrian.

by / Monday, 10 May 2021 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury
A car turns into a crosswalk while a pedestrian is trying to cross the street.

Debate around the safety of SUVs has been going on for a long time. For a while, the discussion focused on their tendency to roll over when making sharp turns because of their higher center of gravity. While many newer SUVs are equipped with technology to help prevent rollover accidents, SUVs have also faced criticism for causing visibility problems for other drivers and for putting drivers of smaller cars at risk for greater amounts of damage in the event of an accident.


More recently, many traffic safety experts have been seeing links between increased ownership of SUVs and fatal pedestrian crashes. In a 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which looked at a sample of pedestrian crashes that occurred in urban areas of Michigan, even accidents that involved SUVs traveling at speeds that aren’t exceptionally high had serious consequences for pedestrians. In the data they looked at, 3 out of 10 (30%) crashes where the SUV was traveling between 20 and 39 MPH resulted in a pedestrian fatality, compared to 5 out of 22 (23%) crashes between pedestrians and smaller cars.


Nationwide, traffic accidents involving pedestrians have been on the rise in recent years. Not only are they happening more often, they’re becoming more deadly. Between 2009 and 2018, pedestrian fatalities increased 53%, with pedestrians accounting for nearly one-fifth of all traffic fatalities. During this same time, SUVs went from representing 21% of the U.S. vehicle fleet to representing 29%. The issue is that SUVs have a higher leading edge that’s higher than on sedans, which means that SUVs are more likely to throw pedestrians upon collision and more likely to cause hip and thigh injuries than smaller cars.


Even during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when people were driving significantly less due to stay-at-home orders, pedestrian crashes remained a serious problem. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), it’s estimated that the pedestrian fatality rate increased 20% during the first six months of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019.


While SUVs have been cited as a contributing factor to the increased rate of pedestrian fatalities, it’s not the only factor. Check out our infographic to learn more about pedestrian accidents and their causes.

Pedestrian Accident Infographic

Goodwin & Scieszka Pedestrian Safety Infographic

Infographic Transcription

Pedestrian Safety in Michigan & Nationwide

2,403 pedestrians in the state of Michigan were involved in motor vehicle accidents in 2019.

How Serious are Pedestrian Accidents?

  • 6.2% of Michigan pedestrian accidents in 2019 were fatal

  • 79.5% of pedestrian accidents in Michigan caused injuries

  • 10.1% of fatal pedestrian accidents in Michigan involved people 15 years and under

  • 44% increase in pedestrian traffic fatalities nationwide between 2010 and 2019

  • Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 17% of all traffic fatalities nationwide in 2019

  • Three out of four pedestrian fatalities nationwide in 2019 occurred after dark

  • 81% of fatal pedestrian accidents nationwide occurred in urban areas

  • Pedestrian accidents increased 20% the first half of 2020 from the same time in 2019, despite people driving less because of COVID

Factors Linked to the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents

  • More large trucks and SUVs

  • Distracted driving

  • Vehicle speed

  • Alcohol and substance use


Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer. With how common it is for injuries to occur in these types of crashes, it’s extremely important to have someone on your side who can help make sure you get all of the care you need. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re experienced in handling a wide range of personal injury cases in the state of Michigan, including car accident cases. Contact us today to get started.

Featured Image: iStock / PinkBadger