As the weather gets warmer, the number of cyclists and pedestrians traveling Illinois’ roadways increases, and research shows that the number of Americans traveling in large trucks or SUVs is increasing, too. Yet, the larger a vehicle is, the more of a threat it is to cyclists and pedestrians. While the number of large cars on the nation’s roads increases, so, too, does the number of cyclist and pedestrian deaths taking place across the country.
According to Slate, large trucks and SUVs first outsold traditional sedans back in 2002, and the number of motorists opting for these large, heavy vehicles has grown steadily since.
How big cars impact fatality rates
While big cars may offer more protection for those traveling inside them, they do the opposite for anyone else they come in contact with on the roadway. Studies show that SUVs are between two and three times as likely as standard sedans to kill a pedestrian in a car-on-pedestrian crash. Pedestrian deaths also hit a 40-year high in 2021. Cyclist deaths have also risen as Americans began purchasing more and more large vehicles. Between 201 and 2020, the number of cyclists killed in crashes increased by 44%.
Why big cars create big dangers for cyclists, pedestrians
The main reason big cars pose such a big threat is because they have higher leading edges than smaller cars. “Leading edges” are the parts of a vehicle that typically strike a pedestrian in a wreck, and bigger cars have higher leading edges, meaning they often strike pedestrians and cyclists higher up on their bodies.
These days, four out of every five new cars sold are either large trucks or SUVs, so these numbers are likely to continue to climb.