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Pedestrian deaths involving SUVs soar by 80 percent, study says

Pedestrian deaths are up in Nevada and nationwide and more SUVs on the road may be one reason why.

Pedestrian deaths are becoming a growing problem in Nevada. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, while overall traffic fatalities in the Silver State actually declined in 2017, fatal pedestrian accidents have reached record heights. Nevada is hardly alone on the issue and serious pedestrian accidents have increased across the country in recent years. One alarming and often overlooked cause of the dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities is the growth in SUV sales. Because of how SUVs are designed, they are much more likely to cause catastrophic injuries to the pedestrians who are struck by them.

Pedestrian deaths up in Nevada

The Nevada Department of Public Safety recently released its 2017 statistics on traffic accidents on the state. The good news was that overall traffic fatalities had actually declined from 329 in 2016 to 305 in 2017. Furthermore, DUI-related deaths fell by 45 percent across the state last year.

The bad news was that pedestrian deaths took a substantial leap from 80 in 2016 to 100 in 2017. That is the highest number of pedestrians killed in Nevada in a single year on record. Nationwide, pedestrian deaths are likewise up.

Pedestrian accidents involving SUVs

Many theories have been put forward about why pedestrian deaths are up, including the fact that more people are biking and walking for exercise, there are more cars on the road, and low gas prices have allowed people to drive more often.

However, a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests another culprit: SUVs. As KNPR reports, the study found that between 2009 and 2016 the number of fatal pedestrian accidents involving SUVs soared nationwide by 80 percent. That dramatic rise comes as SUV sales increased by 37 percent over the same time period while all other passenger vehicle types decreased by about one percent.

SUVs are particularly deadly for pedestrians for a number of reasons. For one, they typically have high, flat fronts, meaning that when a pedestrian is struck by an SUV they are more likely to be struck in the head or chest rather than the legs. SUVs are also simply larger, meaning that drivers may have a harder time spotting pedestrians that are around them.

One potential way to cut down on pedestrian deaths involving SUVs is through pedestrian airbags, which are already being added to some SUVs in Europe. Brighter headlights, better designed frontends, and rearview cameras could also help alert drivers to pedestrians.

Help after an injury

A motor vehicle accident can be devastating, particularly for pedestrians who are much more likely than drivers to suffer catastrophic injuries. A personal injury attorney can assist clients who have been hurt in accidents, including by advocating on their behalf when pursuing whatever compensation they may be entitled to.