As the most populous state in the country, California has the most vehicles out on the road at any given time, often operating in heavy traffic and at close quarters. And this poses a significant threat toward pedestrians who share the space with cars, trucks, SUVs and other motor vehicles.
Over the years, pedestrian accidents are becoming deadlier. And while there are multiple factors involved, one of the most important is the fact that the average vehicle is larger and heavier than ever.
Why are motor vehicles growing larger?
There are two main reasons why the average vehicle on the road in the United States has increased in size. The first is the proliferation of the SUV. The second is auto makers creating larger versions of their existing models, especially in the truck and SUV categories.
SUVs (and trucks) have become the most profitable types of vehicles to sell, and auto makers have thrown their advertising heft behind marketing these vehicles. Consumers have responded, and now sedans and smaller cars are an ever-shrinking part of the overall vehicle population.
Auto makers are also incentivized to create larger versions of their existing SUV and truck models. Features like leg room and carrying/passenger capacity are prime selling features, and larger vehicles are more appealing than smaller ones.
The danger these larger vehicles pose
Bigger vehicles are more dangerous, both to pedestrians and to other drivers, in a multitude of ways. To begin, a larger vehicle imparts more force in any impact, leading to more damage and injuries.
Larger vehicles also have bigger blind spots, especially lower at the pedestrian level. And heavier vehicles have slower stopping times when braking. In a particular risk to pedestrians, SUVs and trucks tend to make impact with the torso and upper body during collisions, leading to more deadly outcomes.
Since larger vehicles pose dangers to pedestrians, manufacturers will need to add features that will enhance safety. Cameras and sensors are a good start.