SUVs, short for sport utility vehicles, are vehicles that combine the spaciousness of a minivan with the sport capabilities of a truck. SUVs have more horsepower and a higher ground clearance than a regular car. They’re also one of the most popular vehicle choices across the country for their versatility and features.
However, one of the hidden dangers of SUVs is their blind spots. And, as SUVs keep getting bigger and bigger (more on that in a minute), so do their blind spots. When a vehicle has a front blind spot and runs over or collides with an object in front of them because they didn’t see it, it’s called a frontover accident. Frontover accidents kill 366 and injure 15,000 people each year.
A 2019 news investigation by WTHR 13 in Indiana revealed that many sedans, minivans and SUVs have massive blind spots. Reporters from WTHR 13 measured the front blind spots of a variety of vehicles with the driver sitting in a neutral position. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. The most disturbing result of the demonstration was when reporters had children sit in a line in front of a (stationary) Chevy Tahoe and a Cadillac Escalade until the respective drivers were able to see them.
For the Tahoe, it took nine children before the driver could see the tops of their heads. For the Escalade, it took thirteen.
Blind spots and how to prevent them
A blind spot is any area outside of a vehicle that the driver can’t see. Every vehicle has blind spots. Things like headrests, pillars in between windows, items inside the vehicle, or other passengers can all cause blind spots. Large vehicles like SUVs have such large frames, however, they can completely hide outside objects, like a motorcycle in the next lane, or a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Many experts call this a deadly design issue due to the number of fatalities tied to SUVs and frontover accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the number of children killed from cars rolling forward went up over 60% in the past seven years. Amber Rollins of KidsAndCars.org puts the blame on the ever-increasing size of SUVs. “The hoods are much higher on these newer vehicles which is creating higher blind zones and people really just aren’t aware that there’s a blind zone in front where they can’t see,” she said.
Most new vehicles come with safety features like rear-view cameras and blind spot monitoring. Some advanced driver assistance systems also include technology like radar and cameras that detect nearby objects, and alert the driver with a beeping sound.
However, needing all this technology might beg the question – why is it necessary?
Do SUVs really need to be so big?
In a recent article about test-driving the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, Andrew J. Hawkins pointed out, “When you need a suite of high-definition cameras and other expensive sensors to safely drive to the grocery store, there might be something inherently wrong with your design.” Hawkins also notes that the Escalade SUV has the biggest front blind spot of all the SUVs on the market, at 10 feet two inches long. The vehicle itself is 6,000 pounds, nearly 18 feet long, and about six and one-half feet tall.
Cadillac isn’t the only manufacturer whose SUVs are growing in size. USA Today reports that today’s SUV owners are finding their vehicles can’t even fit in their garages anymore. “The next-generation Suburban is gonna be so big – my wife drives one – you’re not going to be able to park it in the garage,” said Jeff Dyke, president of Sonic Automotive, an automotive dealership network. “The Tahoe is the new Suburban, and the new Suburban is a school bus.”
As consumers continue to embrace SUVs, the vehicles keep getting bigger and bigger, leading to more and more serious accidents. If you are injured in an accident with an SUV, talk to the attorneys at Plattner Verderame, P.C. today. For a case evaluation in our Phoenix or Tempe office, reach out to a member of our firm by calling 602-266-2002 or by completing our contact form.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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