Why U.S. streets are becoming deadlier for pedestrians

Originally published at: Why U.S. streets are becoming deadlier for pedestrians - Boing Boing


The answer is SUVs

Taken from carsized. This is a Seat Ateca, one of the biggest cars you can buy in spain without resorting to imports. Next to it is a Ford F150, which from my experience during my trip in march was quite popular (though they were smaller cars, of course).

The ateca is average for a SUV size (a bit smaller than a chevrolet equinox, for example) but the difference is, as I said, that essentially you cannot buy anything bigger unless you go import. I joked with a friend who imported a Mercedes SUV (I think it was the GL, which is similarly sized to an Escalade) that he bought a “land yatch” and he complained about the issues navigating and parking the thing. Our cities are not made for this kind of vehicles.

A Seat Ibiza would be a more normal size, here compared to a Chevrolet Equinox, which would be a mid-sized car in US, I guess?

And I’ve seen how you drive :rofl:


Distraction on the pedestrian side might be a (smaller) contributing factor as well. (recalling some recent examples of pedestrians stepping into the street while not looking up from their cell phones) (“ey! did you just blame the victim!? you @#$@!! you!!” well, device distraction abounds, may we say?)


Though there are myriad causes for pedestrian deaths, the three that are contributing the most to this rise are also completely within the control of manufacturers and drivers: cell phone use, “infotainment” systems replacing tactile buttons and knobs and the trend toward blunt and high-profile front ends, especially on large SUVs.

I can’t find the graphic I’m thinking of at the moment, but in addition to the risk of upper body and head trauma from blunt-nosed vehicles, the viewing angle is dramatically impaired. At this point now most large SUV drivers can’t see a child under 10 unless they’re significantly in front of their vehicle. A child crossing the street in front of them at a crosswalk, for instance, is totally obscured.

ETA: @Abraham_Limpo; same!



Whatever the specific causes, the more general cause is the car-centric urban design that’s plagued the U.S. since the 1950s. Forward-looking cities are finally giving the streets back to pedestrians and cyclists but drivers with mobile phones, SUVs, etc. offset it.


Road traffic deaths have been falling in all other advanced economies during the smartphone era.

It’s the cars, and car-centric society.


Kinda looks like the TL;DR for this article is ¨We don´t actually know!¨


All good points. Except Canada has very similar roads, traffic laws, vehicles, cities, weather (sometimes) and cell phone usage to the USA. For example, Toronto is bigger than Chicago and is home to one of the worlds busiest freeways.
So how come the stats differ?
Another example of American exceptionalism? (I’d put a winking emoji here if I knew how.)


Were the effects of online shopping/services along with per capita car sales accounted for?

what seems strange is, you’d think insurance companies have the records of the kinds of vehicles and conditions involved. if it’s suvs - which i imagine to be true - you’d be able to weight the numbers of deaths by vehicle type within the us and see that suvs cause more deaths

i turn off the daily whenever it comes on the air. it seems so often to have badly reported stories, speculation without facts, both siderism, and all the rest.

maybe it’s gotten better recently? but it sounds like they could have dug deeper on this.


I live in a rather rural suburb of a major city, and there are some stupidly large trucks out there… like some are seriously verging into “monster truck” territory…

It’s absurd and it enrages me everytime I see one driving down the road. My honda fit is tiny by comparison…


as a pedestrian, i’ll also add that i think the increased soundproofing on the interior of cars makes people more likely to lose focus with everything outside the car, and also an increased level of impatience in people, so everyone is driving faster to get wherever they are going NOW NOW NOW.


“whereas European drivers need one hand on the gear shift at all times.”
Er, no. My driving instructors would have a fit. When not actually changing gear your left (in the UK) hand should be on the steering wheel. Perhaps the necessity for using the clutch pedal - that third pedal that automatic transmission vehicles don’t have - means European drivers have (in theory) to pay more attention to their driving. Last time I drove an automatic I had a bad case of kangaroo petrol, because I kept stamping on the clutch pedal when I would have changed gear, only it was the brake.
For my money, the enormous size of most roadways in the USA makes me think that drivers can get away with paying a lot less attention to what they’re doing, in general. Compare driving in Yorkshire, UK, where constantly you need to stop to let another car through in the opposite direction. The roads aren’t always so narrow, but they narrow at odd and unpredictable intervals.


There are many, many reasons why this is happening in any countries right now. Many of them have been mentioned above. Some are known and measurable. If they didn’t bother starting which that why would I listen to them? Read liveable cities thread here for example.


I think it’s a multitude of things, phones, traffic cameras, insurance devices, All these things play apart, traffic cameras got people slamming on the brakes, so do the insurance device, you got people impede traffic,going too slow so everybody trying to go around and bang you hit somebody, speed cameras same thing, people slamming on the brakes think they’re going too fast,looking down at the speed odometer,Don’t care about the cars behind them and then there’s a hell of a lot of new drivers on the road,these driving schools are only teaching people enough to pass the test nothing else,

How on earth is stopping at red lights killing people? That is the very epitome of citation needed


I wish being “built like a Sherman tank” was a disincentive rather than a selling point for many American car-buyers.


I imagine Sherman tanks didn’t…… oh wait, the Germans called them “Tommy cookers” because they were under armoured and featured a magazine in the turret prone to burst into flames, so no, just like SUVs they are huge, dangerous to others and dangerous to the occupants.

Giant cars/trucks are more likely to crash and are less safe to crash in as well as to be crashed into by.


I think it’s really one big thing: TERRIBLE HEADLIGHT DESIGN.

Headlights on newer cars are blinding, especially when smaller cars are faced with SUV headlights. AFAIK other nations have much better regulations on headlights, whereas in the USA our headlights have gotten worse and worse over the past decade or two.

I read the article when it was first in the NYT. When I saw the headline I said to myself: “Finally, someone is talking about these terrible headlights!” But no, it wasn’t even mentioned. But have a look at the comments: