The Increases in Size of Vehicles Are A Danger to Our Streets

by Jeffrey J. Downey, Attorney serving in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.

A rash of traffic accidents in our area where drivers have killed young people has resulted in higher concern about this recurring problem.   Maybe the responsibility for the increase in injuries should lie with the adults…both as manufacturers and as user of vehicles.

It’s cars — not pedestrians — that are usually responsible for traffic accidents. And the larger the vehicle the more potential harm to others on the road.  The government can no longer allow the auto industry to manufacture super-sized personal trucks and SUVs, ” explains Fairfax personal injury lawyer Jeffrey J. Downey. Beyond the obvious environmental implications, these massive vehicles are endangering public safety.


Americans are still buying larger and heavier cars and trucks.  Since 2000, US government regulators have allowed US manufacturers to build larger cars, and front ends of vehicles to morph into towering brick walls.  The weight and height have grown 11 and 24 percent respectively, according to a study conducted by Consumer Reports and published in June 2021.

Some of the best-selling vehicles and pick-ups and SUVs in the United States are now bigger than military tanks from World War II.  In 2020 alone, there have been over 6,700 pedestrian fatalities from vehicular traffic accidents, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration. An increase of 20 percent.  That’s a staggering increase, explains Mclean personal injury attorney Jeffrey Downey.  In Virginia the death rate for accidents rose from .93% (per hundred million miles driven) in 2019  to 1.14 % in 2020, despite significantly less crashes due to reduced volume on the road (Virginia Dept. of Transportation Traffic statistics).

The issue of pedestrian deaths as a result of SUVs, for instance, has long been known.

Nearly 25 years ago, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the impact on pedestrian death from sport-utility-vehicles, better known as SUVs, concluded that SUVs were three times more likely to kill pedestrians when they struct them. It should not be a surprise that a large car can do more damage than a small car.  However, as many Americans opt for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, they are more at risk for serious injuries or death when they get involved in accidents with giant trucks or SUVs.


In a recent article in The Atlantic, the author noted that European and Japanese regulators have imposed pedestrian-safety standards on automakers, leading to innovations like active hood.

Simply put…the auto industry in the United States has been hesitant to consider restructuring their business model away from manufacturing SUVs for higher-income individuals.

In 2015 the NHTSA announced it intention to overhaul its vehicle-safety rating system, which would include a new score for pedestrian safety.  Consumers as many are well aware of make decisions based on safety and injury of individuals inside a car.  The proposed regulation would note the injuries that result from those high end vehicles toward pedestrians and cyclists.Now over 6 years later, and what would have been part of the Build Better Plan that is being held up by the Senate, is nowhere to be seen.  And the safety of walkers and cyclists remains not a concern to auto manufacturers.


If you or a loved one or have been injured in an auto accident, call the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey for a free consultation.


Contact Information:

The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey

8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810

McLean, VA 22102

Phone: 703-564-7318 or 703-564-7357

Fax: 703-883-0108