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Pedestrian crashes: higher injury severity and mortality rate for light truck vehicles compared with passenger vehicles


Introduction: During the last two decades changes in vehicle design and increase in the number of the light truck vehicles (LTVs) and vans have led to changes in pedestrian injury profile. Due to the dynamic nature of the pedestrian crashes biomechanical aspects of collisions can be better evaluated in field studies.

Design and settings: The Pedestrian Crash Data Study, conducted from 1994 to 1998, provided a solid database upon which details and mechanism of pedestrian crashes can be investigated.

Results: From 552 recorded cases in this database, 542 patients had complete injury related information, making a meaningful study of pedestrian crash characteristics possible. Pedestrians struck by LTVs had a higher risk (29%) of severe injuries (abbreviated injury scale ⩾4) compared with passenger vehicles (18%) (p = 0.02). After adjustment for pedestrian age and impact speed, LTVs were associated with 3.0 times higher risk of severe injuries (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.26 to 7.29, p = 0.013). Mortality rate for pedestrians struck by LTVs (25%) was two times higher than that for passenger vehicles (12%) (p<0.001). Risk of death for LTV crashes after adjustment for pedestrian age and impact speed was 3.4 times higher than that for passenger vehicles (95% CI 1.45 to 7.81, p = 0.005).

Conclusion: Vehicle type strongly influences risk of severe injury and death to pedestrian. This may be due in part to the front end design of the vehicle. Hence vehicle front end design, especially for LTVs, should be considered in future motor vehicle safety standards.

  • pedestrian
  • vehicle type
  • passenger vehicle
  • light truck vehicle
  • van
  • mortality
  • AIS, abbreviated injury scale
  • CI, confidence interval
  • ISS, injury severity score
  • LTV, light truck vehicle
  • NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • PCDS, Pedestrian Crash Data Study

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