Residents of California and the rest of the United States are increasingly choosing larger cars and trucks over smaller sedans, and this spells big trouble for cyclists. These days, the most popular car in America has a hood as high as the roof on most sedans. When vehicles of this size strike cyclists or pedestrians, the results are often fatal.
According to the Atlantic, America’s most popular vehicle is now 55” tall at the hood, meaning that if it strikes a cyclist, it may injure that individual’s head or neck.
In many countries around the world, including many across Asia and Europe, safety regulators have implemented safety standards and vehicle size and weight limits to help protect those traveling on foot or by bike. However, regulators in the United States have been slower to take action.
A vehicle’s front end, or leading edge, plays a big role in how much damage it causes upon striking a cyclist. The higher and heavier a vehicle’s front end is, the more of a danger it poses. Since 2000, the weight of American vehicles increased by an average of 11%. At the same time, the average hood height of an American vehicle grew by 24%. Furthermore, some of today’s top-selling trucks and SUVs are now larger than the military tanks used in World War II.
As long as large, heavy trucks remain popular and profitable, the number of cyclists suffering serious injuries or losing their lives in collisions with them may continue to grow. However, a new bill gives transportation and safety officials two years to develop safety standards aimed at reducing cyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities.