SUVs are large, heavy, unwieldy, top-heavy vehicles. Their drivers sometimes can’t see other vehicles or pedestrians due to blind spots and high clearance. Drivers of other vehicles sometimes can’t see around them. And they have a propensity to tip over when they need to make sudden changes in direction to avoid accidents, causing a different kind of crash altogether.
Should a driver in an SUV injure you here in Tampa, please give us a call. The Tampa SUV Accident Lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have helped many people like you recover compensation after negligent drivers have injured our clients. Call us now to see what we can do for you.
What Is an SUV?
SUV is an abbreviation for “sport utility vehicle.” According to Kelley Blue Book, SUVs are a type of vehicle that combines the spaciousness of a minivan with the towing capacity of off-road capabilities of a truck. Initially, SUVs were designed to act more like a truck, combining a higher ground clearance and more horsepower. However, newer model SUVs are equipped with safety features and other options more suitable to today’s drivers.
SUVs come in three categories:
- Compact: This is the smallest variety of SUV. While giving up cargo space and power, these models are often more fuel efficient than larger SUV models.
- Mid-size: This size of SUV features more power and cargo space than the compact versions do.
- Full-size: With plenty of horsepower, larger engines, and three rows of seats, the trade off of this size of SUV is that it is more prone to rolling over and a lot pricier to fill the tank.
The Dangers of SUVs
The sales of SUVs and crossovers in the U.S. have more than doubled in the past decade, accounting for over 60 percent of new car purchases. However, continued concerns involve the safety of the vehicles, with disturbing statistics to consider such as this one: The rate of pedestrians killed by SUVs increased 81 percent in ten years’ time. What makes these vehicles so dangerous? Read on for more information.
According to a report from AARP, about 6,000 pedestrians died in the U.S. in 2016, representing a 46 percent increase when compared to 2009. Federal data shows that “SUVs are the constant in the increase and account for a steadily growing proportion of the deaths.”
The reason for this, the report explained, is that the front end of an SUV is higher and blunter than that of a car, and is more likely in an accident to hit a pedestrian in the chest or head. This type of impact often results in more serious injuries than impacts to the lower parts of the body. However, this is only one of the dangers presented by this vehicle type. The number of drivers and passengers who were killed while riding in SUVs rose 3 percent in 2017—the only population to register an increase in the year’s traffic fatality count.
Pedestrians aged 70 and older are most likely to be killed by vehicles. However, the largest increase in death rates was among adults aged 20-69. One of the reasons for this is that more American adults are using walking as their primary method of commuting to work—increasing from 3.3 million in 2005 to 4.2 million in 2015.
Other dangers that exist with SUVs include:
- A high center of gravity, like trucks and vans, which makes SUVs more prone to rolling over in an accident or when the driver is attempting to negotiate a sharp corner or curve at speed or to attempt collision avoidance maneuvers. While most passenger vehicles have about a 10 percent chance of rolling over in a single-vehicle crash, that likelihood increases to 14-23 percent for SUVs.
- More and larger blind spots, which are areas generally to the rear and side of the vehicle in which the driver can’t see other vehicles or pedestrians by looking in either the side or rear view mirrors. The larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spots. While many newer model SUVs come equipped with backup cameras, these cameras generally don’t show all of the blind spots around the vehicle.
- Higher clearance, which may cause pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists to slip beneath the SUV during an accident—an often deadly phenomenon known as an underride. Many newer model SUVs have been designed with a lower ground clearance to avoid this issue.
- Increased power over that of most smaller cars, which contributes to higher speeds and more severe accidents.
- A false sense of security. Because of its larger size, the SUV can seem deceptively safe to drivers. There is some truth to that, as statistics show that occupants of smaller cars are more likely to die in a crash. However, the seemingly safe fortress of the SUV causes many drivers to take unnecessary risks.
Deadly SUV Accidents in Tampa and the Rest of Florida
- Recently, an SUV driver was lucky to be alive after his vehicle veered off the roadway and nearly nosedived into the waters of Old Tampa Bay. The man stated that he was crossing Courtney Campbell Causeway in his Chevy Tahoe when he suddenly felt the vehicle jerk to the right. He didn’t think much of it until he hit a bump a short time later and attempted to adjust the vehicle a little to the right. Suddenly, the whole vehicle veered sharply to the right, over a concrete barrier, across a bike path, and into the concrete rocks that line the causeway. The man, who was uninjured but cited for careless driving in the incident, said his electrical system also failed at some point and he was unable to unlock the doors or open the windows to exit his vehicle. Instead, he had to kick out the back glass to get out. He said he was thankful that no one was in the bike path when his vehicle sped through it.
- A teenager died recently in St. Johns County after he pulled in front of a tractor-trailer while making a U-turn on SR-207 in his GMC Yukon. The 19-year-old’s vehicle flipped over on its side and the tractor-trailer sustained serious damage to its front end. The driver of the tractor-trailer was hospitalized with serious injuries. Another SUV was also involved in the accident, but the driver of that vehicle was uninjured.
- A 17-year-old boy was killed after the SUV he was driving traveled onto the median and struck an oak tree. The force of the collision caused the Nissan Rogue to rotate as it moved forward and struck another tree, splitting the vehicle in two. The driver was wearing his seat belt but was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.
- Police were trying to determine why an SUV caught fire on Interstate 75 not too long ago. Emergency personnel arrived at the scene at about 7 in the morning to find the vehicle engulfed in flames. After extinguishing the fire, they discovered a body inside the vehicle. At the time of publication of the report, they were still trying to determine if the SUV had been involved in a crash before the fire.
- A 58-year-old woman was killed after she lost control of her Mitsubishi Montero on Hart Expressway. The vehicle traveled onto a grass median where it rolled over several times. The driver was not wearing her seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. Aerial video of the scene revealed the SUV on its side a short distance from where the victim was lying in the middle of the southbound lanes. The roadway was closed for about four hours after the crash for clean up and investigation.
- A woman was critically injured after being struck by an SUV while she was trying to cross U.S. Highway 90. The force of the impact caused the woman’s body to be thrown through the air, landing on the pavement a short distance away. Aid was rendered by the SUV driver as well as a police officer who was in the area on an unrelated matter until transport to an area hospital could be made.
Can SUV Accidents Be Avoided?
While no one can completely erase the risk of a motor vehicle accident, if you’re an owner of an SUV or you’re planning to purchase one, there are some things you can do to avoid having an accident. Here are some tips:
- Newer is better. Older model SUVs got a really bad reputation that required automakers to focus on safety features such as backup cameras to mitigate blind spot dangers in the rear of the vehicle and electronic features that can help stabilize the vehicle or even warn you if there is an obstacle ahead or behind you. These features, while not completely ridding the vehicle type of its dangers, go along way toward keeping you, your passengers, and other travelers on the roadway safe. GM is currently working on designing external airbags for its vehicles that will protect pedestrians in a crash. Other automakers are also looking at airbag designs that would protect pedestrians from striking the windshield area of the vehicle. One of the most common causes of death to pedestrians is not the initial impact from the car but the secondary impact when the victim strikes his or her head on the windshield or roof pillars.
- Driving an SUV isn’t like driving a smaller car. It handles differently. It brakes differently. If you’re new to driving an SUV, it is best to practice in an open space before heading out onto the roadway.
- Be careful of overloading the inside or rooftop of an SUV. Because of the higher center of gravity, unevenly distributed weight or additional weight on the top of the vehicle increases the risk of the vehicle rolling over.
- Be extra cautious of other cars and pedestrians. Always check your blind spots before backing, turning, or merging. Remember that SUVs are responsible for a high number of pedestrian deaths due to the driver’s inability to easily see them and the impact point of the vehicle on a person’s body. Position your side view mirrors so that blind spots are reduced and check them often in addition to looking over your shoulder to visually inspect the areas you cannot see in the mirrors.
- Remember that mid- and full-size SUVs require a greater stopping distance than smaller cars due to their weight, and even more distance is needed if the car is loaded with cargo or passengers or on wet roads. Don’t tailgate.
- Watch your speed. About 40 percent of vehicle rollovers involve excessive speed. It is particularly important to avoid speeding around sharp corners that can cause the weight of the vehicle to shift and tax the steering capabilities of the SUV.
- Check your tires once a month and replace worn tires promptly. A tire blowout is a common cause for SUV rollovers as it creates a condition where the car is hard to control.
- Use caution when purchasing an SUV for your teenager. Though the general rule of thumb for first vehicles is that bigger is safer, SUVs often come with more horsepower and more difficult maneuverability than an inexperienced driver can handle. Be sure to do your research on crash test ratings for the vehicles you’re considering to ensure that you’re selecting the safest vehicle possible for your young driver.
The Federal Government Addresses SUV Issues
As part of a comprehensive plan for improving the safety of all vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a rule that would require all light cars and trucks to come equipped with an electronic stability control (ESC) system. What this system does is use automatic, computer controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in critical driving situations.
The system is already available in many newer model vehicles, and the NHTSA estimates that it will reduce single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 34 percent, while reducing single-vehicle crashes of SUVs by 59 percent by providing a much greater reduction of rollovers. The agency believes that, once all new vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC, up to 9,600 lives will be saved and up to 238,000 injuries will be prevented.
Call Our Tampa SUV Accident Attorneys Today
If you were injured in an SUV accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your injury-related expenses. Our experienced Tampa car accident attorneys can help by providing legal guidance. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or by contacting us online.