If you spend a lot of time driving, whether as part of a commute, your job or because you enjoy it, you likely realize you face the risk of a car accident each time you get behind the wheel. What you may not realize is how the size of your vehicle and the size of vehicles you share the road with play a factor in if you are more likely to suffer a serious injury, or even die, in a vehicle accident.
Vehicle size and accident injury risks
In the last 20 years, more and more Americans have embraced driving larger vehicles – SUVs and pickup trucks particularly. Not surprisingly, these vehicles weigh more than standard passenger vehicles. In fact, some supersized pickup trucks now weigh 7,000 pounds, more than three Honda Civics. With increased vehicle weights come more devastating crashes because more force is involved. So if you are driving a passenger vehicle and are hit by a supersized truck or SUV, more force from that larger vehicle will impact your car. You are more likely to suffer an injury or even die as a result.
Another interesting way vehicle size plays a role in accident injury risks is that more women are at risk of suffering injuries or fatalities because of the vehicles they drive. More women drive passenger vehicles than men, so they face an increased injury risk when involved in a crash with a larger vehicle.
Vehicle size impacting pedestrian and bicyclist fatality rates
In 2019, pedestrian fatality rates in vehicle crashes reached the highest levels in 30 years. More than 6,500 pedestrians died in accidents with cars. One reason why pedestrian rates have climbed in recent years is the increased size in vehicles.
Not only do accidents with larger vehicles carry deadly force for pedestrians. Larger vehicles also have larger blind spots, so drivers have a harder time seeing both pedestrians and bicyclists. Bicyclist fatality rates also have risen, especially in metro areas like Boston and New York because of accidents with large SUVs and pickup trucks. In fact, New York lawmakers have suggested establishing a safety rating system to notify vehicle buyers of the increased risks specific SUVs and large pickups pose to bicyclists and pedestrians.
So if you like to drive a smaller sports car or fun-to-drive car like a Mini Cooper, you have to pay attention the next time you see a supersize SUV or pickup in your rear-view mirror or nearby. You might have to use defensive driving techniques if you want to avoid a devastating crash with a larger vehicle.