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  • Writer's pictureArizona Contractor & Community

Research continues to show that high front-end, blunt hood design could be one of the many causes of high pedestrian death rates

By Richard Parker, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Arizona’s pedestrian traffic fatalities have skyrocketed in the last decade, and the steady increase in the height of SUV hoods may be credited to this. Trucks and SUVs continue to get taller every year, which limits the driver's visibility and increases the likelihood of more serious injury than that of lower-hooded sedans.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research organization that has no regulatory authority; however, it produces quite a bit of research in an effort to get the attention of regulators as well as to share data with the public about the different benefits and consequences that come with automotive transportation.


IIHS Director of Media Relations Joe Young said, “The vehicles that have very high front ends (over 40 inches) were associated with basically a 45% increase in the risk of death of a pedestrian compared with a more traditional lower sedan. We also found that more blunt front ends were associated with high fatality risk.”


Increasing rates of pedestrian deaths across the country are not solely due to front bumpers becoming broader and taller, but they are one of the major factors that have revolved the conversation around fatality more than injury.


The US Department of Transportation found that compared to the previous year, 2021 saw a 13% increase in pedestrian fatalities and a 5% increase in bicyclist fatalities.


Young continued, “There are a lot of things that we could be doing in the cities, especially where there is a lot of pedestrians. Just slowing down traffic is one of them, and adding more safer crossings, especially at nighttime, is probably the biggest thing we could be doing.”


The IIHS is not sure when, if any, governmental regulation would be put in place to regulate how high certain car hoods can be as well as guarantee visibility safety nets across all vehicles; however, they have highlighted the benefits that come from such things as pedestrian crashworthiness requirements in other countries. 


Pedestrian crashworthiness requirements make it so that car manufacturers in other countries have to meet a standard for pedestrian safety in the event of a collision.


Central Phoenix resident Amir Rahman walks to work every day and crosses several intersections to get to his job.


Rahman said, “Phoenix has some of the craziest drivers I’ve seen. I have almost been hit a few times; it seems half of the time drivers forget I have the right of way.”

Joey Garcia, another Central Phoenix resident, said, “You can’t trust the traffic lights if you’re going to be walking around during rush hour.”


Arizona’s population boom is expected to bring the state’s population to 7.6 million in 2024, meaning more people will be walking and driving more, which, if trends continue as they have in the last decade, could be consequential.


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