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United States pedestrian fatality rates by vehicle type
  1. L J Paulozzi
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L J Paulozzi
 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-63, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA;


Objective: To describe the relation between motor vehicle type and the risk of fatally injuring a pedestrian.

Design: The risk of killing a pedestrian was measured as the number of pedestrian fatalities per billion miles of vehicle travel by each vehicle type in the US in 2002 as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Interventions: None.

Main outcome measures: Rates for each vehicle type by sex, age, and rural/urban roadway type and rate comparisons using relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: Passenger cars and light trucks (vans, pickups, and sport utility vehicles) accounted for 46.1% and 39.1%, respectively, of the 4875 deaths, with the remainder split among motorcycles, buses, and heavy trucks. Compared with cars, the RR of killing a pedestrian per vehicle mile was 7.97 (95% CI 6.33 to 10.04) for buses; 1.93 (95% CI 1.30 to 2.86) for motorcycles; 1.45 (95% CI 1.37 to 1.55) for light trucks, and 0.96 (95% CI 0.79 to 1.18) for heavy trucks. Compared with cars, buses were 11.85 times (95% CI 6.07 to 23.12) and motorcycles were 3.77 times (95% CI 1.40 to 10.20) more likely per mile to kill children 0–14 years old. Buses were 16.70 times (95% CI 7.30 to 38.19) more likely to kill adults age 85 or older than were cars. The risk of killing a pedestrian per vehicle mile traveled in an urban area was 1.57 times (95% CI 1.47 to 1.67) the risk in a rural area.

Conclusions: Outcomes reflect the ways in which a vehicle’s characteristics (mass, front end design, and visibility) and its degree of interaction with pedestrians affect its risk per mile. Modifications in vehicle design might reduce pedestrian injury. The greatest impact on overall US pedestrian mortality will result from reducing the risk from the light truck category.

  • CI, confidence interval
  • FARS, Fatality Analysis Reporting System
  • FHWA, Federal Highway Association
  • NHTS, National Household Travel Survey
  • NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • RR, relative risk
  • SUV, sport utility vehicle
  • accidents
  • traffic
  • mortality
  • age factors
  • walking
  • motorcycles

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  • Competing interests: none declared.