America’s Preference for Big Cars Means Danger for Cyclists

When cars collide with cyclists in California, the people riding the bikes often suffer serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. However, research shows that the type of vehicle an individual is driving when they strike a pedestrian often contributes to the severity of the injuries suffered. This is concerning given that Americans are expressing a clear preference for SUVs and large trucks because these large, heavy vehicles present a significant threat to cyclist safety.

According to The Atlantic, many Americans are increasingly favoring large trucks and SUVs, which have higher front profiles, or leading edges, than smaller sedans.

Dangers Associated With Large Cars

The most popular truck sold in America now has a front profile that is 55” off the ground. This means that if it hits a pedestrian or cyclist, it does so on the upper body or somewhere on the head or neck, where it may cause significant damage and catastrophic injuries. Also worth noting is the fact that, since 2000, the average weight of pickup trucks grew by 11%, while the average hood height for these vehicles grew by 24%.

Modifications to Design Styles for Large Cars

Recognizing the risks these larger vehicles carry, legislators across Japan and parts of Europe began making automakers change their vehicle body styles to make them less of a threat to pedestrians and cyclists. However, American safety regulators have yet to take this level of action.

The increasing popularity of large trucks and SUVs may help explain why pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates have risen steadily across California and the nation while other road fatalities have decreased.