SUVs With Big Front Ends Are More Dangerous To Cyclists: Study

SUVs With Big Front Ends Are More Dangerous To Cyclists: Study

American roads continue to get safer after a spike in traffic deaths happened in 2020. However, while fewer people are dying, the decreases aren’t affecting everyone equally. According to recent federal data, fatal crashes involving cyclists were up 8 percent through the first nine months of 2022. A new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study points to today’s larger SUVs as more dangerous for cyclists than other types of cars.

According to IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort, the study’s lead author, “SUVs tend to knock riders down,” potentially running them over rather than a smaller vehicle sending the person onto the hood. Monfort added, “That’s probably because the higher front end of an SUV strikes the cyclist above their center of gravity,” toppling them to the ground where the wheels, undercarriage, or ground cause injuries.

IIHS looked at detailed crash data from the International Center for Automotive Medicine’s Pedestrian Consortium about 71 bicycle crashes in Michigan. These were single-vehicle accidents involving a bicyclist age 16 or older, with data from police reports, medical records, crash reconstructions, and other sources.

Monfort discovered that injuries to the lower extremities were common across all 71 crashes regardless of whether the vehicle was a car or SUV. Riders involved in severe impacts also suffered head, torso, spine, and abdomen injuries. The study found that trauma to the body as a whole was 55 percent higher for crashes involving SUVs than those with cars. Head injuries were 63 percent higher, but the study found no severity difference between SUVs and cars to other areas of the body.

An early IIHS study from 2020 found that SUVs and their taller front ends are also more dangerous to pedestrians than cars. However, unlike bicyclists who experience injuries from being knocked to the ground where they can run over, pedestrians tend to suffer injuries to the pelvis and chest where the SUV directly impacts them. In 2020, 932 bicyclists were killed on US roads, up from 621 a decade prior. Cyclist deaths are up in 2022, too. 


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