Don’t Turn Your Nose Up to Safety: Blunt-nosed vehicles increase risk of pedestrian fatalities, study finds

Arlington, Virginia — New research from the U.S. non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that medium height vehicles with a blunt profile are equally as dangerous to pedestrians as taller vehicles.

In its new study, the IIHS reports that pedestrian crash deaths in the U.S. have risen 80 percent since 2009, with more than 20 people losing their life everyday in 2021 after being struck by a vehicle.

The reason for this increase has to do with the changing face of vehicles. The IIHS said that pickup trucks, SUVs and vans with a hood height above 40 inches—no matter the nose shape—were 45 percent more likely to cause pedestrian fatalities than vehicles with a sloping front profile and hood height of 30 inches.

The IIHS said that, over the past 30 years, the average passenger vehicle has gotten about four inches (101 mm) wider, 10 inches (254 mm) longer, eight inches (203 mm) taller, and has gained 1,000 lbs (454 kg). The report found that, “On some large pickups, the hoods are almost at eye level for many adults.”

However, if a medium-sized vehicle with a lower hood height also had a blunt or vertical front end, this increased the percentage and risk of death in a pedestrian collision by another 26 percent.

To collect this data, researchers looked at 17,897 crashes involving a single passenger vehicle and a single pedestrian. Researchers excluded vehicles with pedestrian-detecting emergency braking systems and also took into account factors such as speed limits and victim age.

Other data included in the study reveals that flat hoods—15 degrees or less—created an increased 25 percent chance of a fatality risk than vehicles with sloping hoods, and tall and blunt vehicles were at a higher risk of causing critical torso injuries to pedestrians.

“Some of today’s vehicles are pretty intimidating when you’re passing in front of them in a crosswalk,” said David Harkey, president of IIHS. “These results tell us our instincts are correct. More aggressive-looking vehicles can indeed do more harm.”

“Manufacturers can make vehicles less dangerous to pedestrians by lowering the front end of the hood, and angling the grille and hood to create a sloped profile,” said Wen Hu, an IIHS engineer and lead author of the study. “There’s no functional benefit to these massive, blocky fronts.”

For more information about the study, click here. 



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