• Pedestrian injuries and vehicle type and design in Maryland, 1995-1999

      Ballesteros, Michael Francisco; Dischinger, Patricia; Langenberg, Patricia (2001)
      Background. In 1999, 85,000 pedestrians were injured and 4,906 were killed in the United States. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs), pick up trucks (PUs), and vans are popular types of vehicles seen on today's roads. These vehicles ride higher, weigh more, and have different frontal designs compared to conventional automobiles. Little research has been done to understand the relationship between vehicle type/design and pedestrian injury. Methods. To examine the relationships between vehicle type/design and pedestrian injury, police-report, trauma registry, and autopsy data were linked using pedestrian and crash characteristics. Logistic regression analyses were performed to control for vehicle weight and speed. Outcomes of interest included pedestrian mortality, injury severity score (ISS), and injuries to specific body regions.;Results. Pedestrians hit by SUVs and PUs were more likely to have higher ISS (OR = 1.48; 95% CI: 1.1-1.87) and to die as a result of their injuries (OR = 1.72; 95% CI: 1.31-2.28) compared to conventional cars. However, these relationships diminished when vehicle weight and speed were taken into account. At lower speeds, pedestrians struck by SUVs, PUs, and vans were approximately two times as likely to have traumatic brain, thoracic, and abdominal injuries; at higher speeds, vehicle type was not associated with these types of injuries. There were fewer pedestrian below-the-knee injuries for SUVs, PUs, and vans regardless of vehicle mass and speed. Furthermore, design attributes characteristic of SUVs and PUs (such as higher bumper and hood heights) were all associated with fewer below the knee injuries. Conclusions. Pedestrians hit by SUVs and PUs were more likely to have more severe injuries, but the increased danger may be explained by larger vehicle masses and faster speeds. Regardless of vehicle weight, at slower speeds being hit by SUVs, PUs, and vans resulted in twice the brain, thoracic, and abdominal injuries, indicating that vehicle design may contribute to different patterns of injuries. Fewer below the knee injuries were seen with vehicles with higher bumper and hood heights, as well as with vehicles with steeper frontal angles. This suggests that specific pedestrian injuries may be mitigated with alterations to vehicle design.