A sensationalist headline, perhaps, but it’s apparently true: a new article in the British Medical Journal reports that SUVs pose a special risk to pedestrians, particularly over the age of 60. 

A few relevant facts:

  • Pedestrians over 60 are more than four times likely to die if injured by a car than younger people.
  • For any given collision speed, getting hit by an SUV or light truck is nearly twice as fatal (pdf link) as getting hit by a passenger car.
  • Studiesconsistentlyshow higher rates of severe injury or death when pedestrians are struck by SUVs.

Apparently, SUVs are so dangerous to pedestrians not because they’re heavy, but because they’re tall—leading to more injuries of the head and abdomen, rather than the legs.

The report’s authors recommend labelling SUVs with warning notices that they’re hazardous to pedestrians. Sadly, I’m doubtful that that would do much good—it seems to me that many people buy SUVs precisely because they’re a menace to others on the road.  (It feels safer that way, you know.)  More effective—though less politically viable, perhaps—would be changes to liability laws, possibly coupled with up-front charges to SUV buyers, that make SUV owners and manufacturers pay for the safety risks they’re imposing on everyone else.

(Hat tip to Eric Sorensen for the head’s up.)