Drivers of SUVs, Pickup Trucks, Vans, and Minivans Need to Pay Attention and Avoid Causing Pedestrian Accidents
All drivers have an obligation to drive their vehicles safely and exercise due care to avoid collisions with vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. Sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, and other types of roadway infrastructure are intended to protect pedestrians by warning drivers of their presence, and in Illinois, drivers are legally required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians “whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections."
In Illinois, the statewide law is that motorists must STOP for pedestrians in a crosswalk. There is no exception for pedestrians who are on a smartphone or looking in the other direction. Pedestrians have the right of way. This law is a relatively recent change from the old law that motorists only needed to slow for pedestrians in a crosswalk. The change was made so that there was no confusion as to what "slow" meant and to implement pedestrian-friendly policies.
Here is the change that was made to Illinois law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk:
(625 ILCS 5/11-1002) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1002) Sec. 11-1002. Pedestrians' right-of-way at crosswalks.
(a) When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
Yet, even with these protections in place, fatal pedestrian accidents continue to skyrocket in Chicago and other major cities throughout the nation. According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one reason for the increase in pedestrian accidents is the rising popularity of SUVs and other large passenger vehicles.
Almost all SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and minivans sit higher off the ground and weigh more than the average car, which makes collisions with pedestrians even more lethal. That's because when an SUV hits a pedestrian, it's often a direct blow to the center of the person's body, where vital organs are located. In other instances, pedestrians who are hit in the legs by SUVs are thrown over the top of the vehicle, putting the victim at risk of traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and other debilitating injuries.
SUVs More Likely to Hit Pedestrians in Intersections
The IIHS study revealed a startling statistic: compared to cars, SUVs are about twice as likely to cause a fatal pedestrian accident when making a left turn at an intersection. For vans and minivans, the figure is three times that of an average passenger car. And for left-turning pickup trucks, the odds of a fatal pedestrian crash increased nearly four-fold. The study also found an elevated risk of pedestrian fatalities when larger vehicles made right turns, though not to the same extent as vehicles turning left.
“We already know that larger vehicles cause more severe injuries when they strike pedestrians,” said IIHS Vice President of Research Jessica Cicchino. “The link between these vehicle types and certain common pedestrian crashes points to another way that the increase in SUVs on the roads might be changing the crash picture.”
Causes of SUV vs. Pedestrian Crashes
Authors of the IIHS study believe that the A-pillars on either side of an SUV's windshield that connect the body of the vehicle to the roof create massive blind spots for operators attempting to make a left or right turn. In an effort to protect occupants of SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans, and vans, A-pillars have gotten thicker and wider to prevent the roof from collapsing during a rollover. And while these rollover-resilient A-pillars are intended to offer more protection to those inside the vehicle, they obstruct the view of drivers and create a dangerous situation for pedestrians at intersections.
“It’s possible that the size, shape or location of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield could make it harder for drivers of these larger vehicles to see crossing pedestrians when they are turning,” said IIHS Senior Transportation Engineer Wen Hu.
Regardless, if you choose to drive an SUV that has larger blind spots than the average passenger vehicle, it doesn't mean you get a free pass if you cause a pedestrian accident. No matter what type of vehicle you're driving, you should always check twice for pedestrians, follow the rules of the road, and put safety as your top priority.
Drivers Who Hit Pedestrians Need To Be Held Accountable
Whether you drive a car, pickup truck, SUV, van, minivan, motorcycle, or some other type of vehicle, we all need to do our part to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately, there will always be reckless drivers who cause accidents that leave others severely injured—or worse. By hiring a pedestrian accident attorney to hold the at-fault driver responsible for their actions, you can send a strong message to others that negligent driving will not be tolerated on our roadways.
If you were injured or someone you love died in a Chicago-area pedestrian accident due to another driver's negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses, and our law firm can guide you throughout every step of the process. Don't let an insurance company try to downplay the severity of your injuries or question what role you played in the crash. They only care about protecting their own interests and look at your accident as nothing more than a threat to their bottom line.
Let our law firm aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for the compensation you're entitled to. To learn more about how we can help you, contact Keating Law today at 833-CALL-KLO for a free consultation with an experienced Chicago pedestrian accident attorney.