By on June 16, 2020

From the “No Shit” files comes a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In it, researchers reach an obvious conclusion that should surprise no one: tall, blunt-faced vehicles are far more likely to damage your sensitive, delicate body than low-riding passenger cars.

Pick that jaw up off the floor.

Analyzing car-pedestrian collisions from three Michigan cities, the takeaway was clear. That marauding Lexus LX 470 is far more likely to do damage to your internal organs (and the bits and piece surrounding them) than, say, a 2008 Honda Civic.

From the IIHS:

 In the Michigan crashes, SUVs caused more serious injuries than cars when impacts occurred at greater than 19 miles per hour. At speeds of 20-39 mph, 3 out of 10 crashes with SUVs (30 percent) resulted in a pedestrian fatality, compared with 5 out of 22 for cars (23 percent). At 40 mph and higher, all three crashes with SUVs killed the pedestrian (100 percent), compared with 7 out of 13 crashes involving cars (54 percent). Below 20 miles per hour there was little difference between the outcomes, with pedestrians struck by either vehicle type tending to sustain minor injuries.

Seems pretty clear-cut and obvious, though with only 79 collisions from one geographic area under the microscope, researchers say they’ll need a wider study to show just how prevalent the phenomenon is.

While traffic fatalities are on the decline — passive safety systems and a reduction in drunk driving have seen roadway deaths fall significantly since the 1980s, despite more miles driven — pedestrian fatalities are up. This cohort now makes up one fifth of all traffic fatalities. Vehicle design and the skyrocketing popularity of high-riding SUVs, trucks, and crossovers over the past decade could explain that.

“Although pedestrian crashes most frequently involved cars, fatal single-vehicle crashes involving SUVs striking pedestrians increased 81 percent from 2009 to 2016, more than any other type of vehicle,” the IIHS stated.

The taller face put forward by SUVs means pedestrians are more likely to sustain thigh and hip damage, as well as be thrown forward, instead of upward. That said, most crossovers these days bear no resemblance to the brick-like International Harvester Scouts of long ago. Lowered bumpers, sloping fronts, and impact-absorbing hoods are a thing. And many crossovers are only that in name only. The same cannot be said for full-size pickups.

“IIHS plans to use the Michigan crash data to look into what kind of SUV profile poses the least risk to struck pedestrians,” the institute said.

[Image: Corey Lewis/TTAC]

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18 Comments on “Does It Have to Be Said? Getting Hit by an SUV Is Worse Than Getting Hit by a Car, Study Finds...”


  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    I can’t wait until they release the Getting Hit by a Train study.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    SUVs are bigger, much heavier, tall off they ground and all equally more forceful impact when a object is hit!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Getting hit by a motor home, bus or 18-wheeler will really mess you up.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Drive around in a little Lotus and realize that it doesn’t really matter who hits you, you’re going to die. Such is life on the edge.

  • avatar
    gasser

    When I was in college (1964) there were few football linemen over 200#. Now people are tackled by 300# plus lineman running faster than 1960s track stars. Still wondering why there are so many more knee injuries????

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      That same statistic, is a common excuse for looking the other way at roid use. Players need all the core strength and muscle they can get, to protect their spine from the heavier impacts…

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        All the new fangled football safety gear has done is enable ever harder hits as demanded by the coach who never gets hit at all….

        Sadly, the players are getting “punchy” from their alleged brains being slapped around te inside of their skulls *much* sooner than used to occur .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    stuki

    Until safety bodies start “taxing” the risk you pose to others, instead of solely focusing on “improving” the “safety” of your own cocoon, the size and number of such task-optimized vehicles as Abrams tanks for commuter duty, will only keep increasing.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    “That said, most crossovers these days bear no resemblance to the brick-like International Harvester Scouts of long ago.”

    But, they bear a strong resemblance to the tallish station wagons from the ’40’s, and 50’s (before someone dropped a brick on American cars). I know calling a station wagon a station wagon is taboo, but how long do we have to keep calling them SUV’s (which they ain’t) or that goofy moniker: crossover?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    NAW ;

    There’s not enough data to be sure, more beta testing is necessary .

    Maybe those damnfools who step off the curb without looking will volunteer…..

    -Nate

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I think there is clear evidence this story is backwards. In Charlottesville the driver used a sedan. He was immediately charged with attempted murder and when the young lady died the charges were upgraded to murder.

    In Buffalo the driver used an SUV. Fortunately all three people she hit (two police officers and a state trooper) survived. The driver was only charged with aggravated assault. So clearly the message is that SUV’s are far less dangerous. Because surely the charges were not based on politics.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Maybe this study will allow cars to have proper front ends again instead of tall “pedestrian safety” front ends.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      “Maybe this study will allow cars to have proper front ends again instead of tall “pedestrian safety” front ends.”

      Then could have windows instead of gun slits. No more Camaro syndrome.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Here’s a thought experiment: What if we could buy *any* car we wanted but it was taxed on a sociopathy scale. Cars would be scored on lethality to others, lethality to occupants, fuel consumption, emissions, active and passive collision avoidance, etc. with sliding tax rates for each. Buy something with a low total score, get a fat tax rebate. Buy something with a high total score, pay a big tax penalty on it. In this way you have a free market that sends accurate price signals by correcting for externalities. You maximize both freedom of choice and benefit across society.

    It would never work because the first “pro-business” administration elected would totally corrupt it, but in a perfect world it’s a nicer alternative to command and control regulation, and it might ease up the arms race of buying a Tahoe so that your neighbor’s Tahoe doesn’t kill your kids.

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