At intersections, the odds that a crash that killed a crossing pedestrian involved a left turn by the vehicle versus no turn were about twice as high for SUVs, nearly three times as high for vans and minivans and nearly four times as high for pickups as they were for cars, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
It appears that bigger vehicles are substantially more likely than passenger cars to strike pedestrians when making turns. This finding suggests that larger vehicles may not provide drivers with as clear a view of walkers.
Right turning large vehicles did not fare much better than those turning left. For example, the study found that the odds that a crash that killed a crossing pedestrian involved a right turn by the vehicle were 89% higher for pickups and 63% higher for SUVs than for cars.
In fact, turning crashes accounted for more than 900 of approximately 5,800 fatal pedestrian crashes at or near U.S. intersections during 2014 through 2018.
IIHS engineers hypothesize about potential visibility issues associated with the infrastructure of larger vehicles. For example, it is possible the size, shape, or location of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield could make it harder for drivers of larger vehicles to see crossing pedestrians when the vehicle is turning.
However, a systematic assessment of A-pillar design by vehicle type has not been conducted. Other design elements of larger vehicles could also impede drivers’ ability to see pedestrians, notes IIHS, such as their high ride heights and long front ends.
The study also explored pedestrian crashes at other locations beyond intersections. As compared with cars, SUVs and pickups were associated with 51% and 25% greater odds of killing a pedestrian walking or running along the road versus a fatal straight-on crash with a crossing pedestrian.