The effect of front-end vehicle height on pedestrian death risk

Abstract: Pedestrian deaths in the US have risen in recent years. Concurrently, US vehicles have increased in size, which may pose a safety risk for pedestrians. In particular, the increased height of vehicle front-ends may present a danger for pedestrians in a crash, as the point of vehicle contact is more likely to occur at the pedestrian’s chest or head. I merge US crash data with a public data set on vehicle dimensions to test for the impact of vehicle height on the likelihood that a struck pedestrian dies. After controlling for crash characteristics, I estimate a 10 cm increase in the vehicle’s front-end height is associated with a 22% increase in fatality risk. I estimate that a cap on front-end vehicle heights of 1.25 m would reduce annual US pedestrian deaths by 509.

Published: Tyndall, J. (2024). The effect of front-end vehicle height on pedestrian death risk. Economics of Transportation, 37.

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