Tall and flat noses more likely to cause death
Pedestrian deaths at record highs
Flat noses on vehicles are deadly for pedestrians. That’s what the latest data from the IIHS shows, saying that a vertical nose makes even medium-height vehicles significantly more deadly in a crash.
Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. reached their modern low in 2008. Since then, pedestrian crash deaths have risen 80 percent. 7,400 walkers, more than 20 people every day, died after being hit by a vehicle in 2021. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says some of that can be pinned on speeding and bad infrastructure, but the growing share of pickups and SUVs takes the brunt of the blame.
The IIHS says the average passenger vehicle is four inches wider, eight inches taller, and 1,000 pounds heavier than 30 years ago. On many pickups and SUVs, hood heights have reached eye heights.
IIHS researchers looked at 17,897 crashes involving one vehicle and one pedestrian. Researchers excluded the small number of vehicles with pedestrian emergency braking and controlled for age, speed limit, and sex.
“Vehicles with hoods more than 40 inches off the ground at the leading edge and a grille sloped at an angle of 65 degrees or less were 45 percent more likely to cause pedestrian fatalities than those with a similar slope and hood heights of 30 inches or less. Vehicles with hood heights of more than 40 inches and blunt front ends angled at greater than 65 degrees were 44 percent more likely to cause fatalities,” said the IIHS.
On vehicles with lower hood heights, 30-40 inches, a blunt grille increased the odds of pedestrian fatality by 25 percent.
IIHS Senior Researched Wen Hu, lead author of the study, said that “there’s no functional benefit to these massive, blocky fronts,” adding that automakers could lower hoods and increase angles to make vehicles less dangerous to pedestrians.
The research found that tall and blunt vehicles were more likely to inflict a head injury. They were also more likely to throw pedestrians forward, while sloped grilles lead to rolling onto the hood and less severe impacts.