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The SUV Boom Is Killing Us

Illustration for article titled The SUV Boom Is Killing Us

The basic gist the auto industry’s shift toward big honking vehicles is that, as a result of cheap gas and a decent economy, car buyers are now totally hooked on SUVs. But there’s an untold side to that equation, as an investigation by the Detroit Free Press and USA Today recently found: more pedestrian deaths, which are up 46 percent overall since 2009


The newspapers’ joint effort found the SUV revolution is a “key, leading cause of escalating pedestrian deaths nationwide.”


Here’s a cut from the story:

Almost 6,000 pedestrians died on or along U.S. roads in 2016 alone — nearly as many Americans as have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Data analyses by the Free Press/USA TODAY and others show that SUVs are the constant in the increase and account for a steadily growing proportion of deaths.

And in what should surprise none of you:

Federal safety regulators have known for years that SUVs, with their higher front-end profile, are at least twice as likely as cars to kill the walkers, joggers and children they hit, yet have done little to reduce deaths or publicize the danger.


But policymakers aren’t the only ones engaged in a whole lotta nothing:

A federal proposal to factor pedestrians into vehicle safety ratings has stalled, with opposition from some automakers.


I don’t want to give away the entire loot, because the main piece to the Freep and USA Today series here is absolutely worth your time. The rest of the series is, too: how the increase of pedestrian deaths is primarily affecting cities; how new car tech could help reduce pedestrian deaths; and how distracted driving has played a role in the increase of pedestrian deaths, as well.

But regulators are well aware that pedestrians are two-to-three times more likely to die if they’re struck by a SUV, the investigation found. Hopefully, publicizing that fact now will bring about some change.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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MK6GTI-now with added Miata

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say distracted driving is probably more of a cause than the vehicle being driven.