Large passenger vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans are becoming more popular, but a new study indicates their design may contribute to an increase in certain types of crashes with pedestrians.
The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is believed to be the first to look at the association between common types of pedestrian crashes, and passenger vehicle types.
It finds bigger vehicles such as SUVs were more likely than cars to be involved in crashes with pedestrians while turning at or near intersections.
It may have to do with what are called A-pillars — the pillars on either side of the windshield that connect the roof to the rest of the vehicle.
Large vehicles tend to have wider A-pillars than cars do, and they create bigger blind spots for drivers.
“The link between these vehicle types and certain common pedestrian crashes points to another way that the increase in SUVs on the roads might be changing the crash picture,” said Jessica Cicchino, a study author and vice president of research for the institute.
The study concluded that more research is needed, but if the findings are confirmed, automakers should look at ways to minimize blind spots while maintaining the strength of the A-pillars, which are crucial to protect drivers and passengers in rollover crashes.