Historically, accidents between cars and pedestrians tend to end badly for the pedestrian. However, recent studies show that certain types of vehicles are more deadly for pedestrians than others.

SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, have become more common than ever on America’s roadways, which is bad news for pedestrians. According to Forbes Magazine, 100% of pedestrians struck by an SUV at a speed greater than 40 miles an hour died, as compared to only 54% of pedestrians hit by regular cars.

Why are SUVs so much more deadly?

The experts say more research is necessary, but preliminary studies show that the problem lies in the design of an SUV. The front end of an SUV tends to be taller and more square as compared to a sedan, which typically sits lower on the ground and has a sleeker, curved front end.

This means that pedestrians are more likely to fly forward when struck by an SUV. In addition to a higher likelihood of death, pedestrians struck by SUVs were more likely to sustain either hip or thigh injuries.

How can design help make SUVs less deadly?

In Europe, SUVs come with pedestrian airbags in an attempt to mitigate this problem. However, the number of SUVs on Europe’s roadways is smaller as compared to the US; thus, how effective these design changes would be on a larger scale is unclear. Additionally, driver-assist systems that apply brakes automatically when it senses an object in front of the SUV could potentially reduce pedestrian fatalities by over 50 percent, by some estimates.

However, in the meantime, it is vital that SUV drivers and pedestrians stay extra-vigilant when out on the roadways.