Public and environmental health sport utility vehicles (SUVs)
Simms CK and Wood DP, Pedestrian Risk from Cars and Sport Utility Vehicles - A Comparative Analytical Study, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, 220, 8, 2006, 1085 1100
Analysis of real-world crash data from the USA shows that 11.5 per cent of
pedestrians struck by large sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are killed, compared with 4.5 per cent
of pedestrians struck by passenger cars. The design of the vehicle front-end structure has a
substantial influence on injury outcome when pedestrians are struck by vehicles. In the context
of the rising population of SUVs, it is important to determine the causes of their increased
hazard to pedestrians. In this paper, validated multi-body models are used to show that the
shape of SUVs results in higher pedestrian injuries to the mid-body regions compared to
passenger cars. Analysis shows that the mass difference between cars and SUVs is not significant
for pedestrian injury causation and it is shown that an important effect of the higher front
profile of SUVs is that the pedestrian is struck more centrally with respect to the body’s centre
of gravity, increasing the momentum transfer in the primary impact. A further important
effect of the higher bonnet leading edge is that there is a direct impact to the mid-body region,
which explains the significant abdomen and other internal injuries reported from real-world
SUV/pedestrian impacts. By comparison, head injuries sustained from primary vehicle contact
are shown to be similar or slightly lower for SUV/pedestrian impacts compared to car/
pedestrian impacts. However, real-world evidence and the current models suggest that the
secondary impact with the ground is more severe in SUV/pedestrian impacts compared to car/
pedestrian impacts. Overall, these results show that the empirical finding that SUVs are more
hazardous for pedestrians than passenger cars is primarily a function of the high bumper and
bonnet for such vehicles.
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