Pedestrian deaths in the United States have jumped 46 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2009. In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in crashes, the highest level since 1990.
In a new study of crash trends, IIHS said fatal single-vehicle crashes involving SUVs increased 81 percent over a seven-year period. Researchers noted that SUVs, which are proliferating faster than cars, have higher and often more vertical front ends and are more likely to strike a pedestrian in the head or chest. Changes in the front-end design of these vehicles could help lessen the severity of injuries when a strike occurs, the organization said.
A large majority of pedestrian fatalities occur in the dark, which could be partly alleviated with superior headlights, according to the report. For 2018, IIHS rated 26 models as having good headlight packages.
Vehicles with front crash prevention systems that recognize pedestrians would also help -- especially if they are designed to work in low light, IIHS said. A recent analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that Subaru vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection had insurance claim rates for pedestrian injuries that were 35 percent lower than the same vehicles without the system.