The association between passenger-vehicle front-end profiles and pedestrian injury severity in motor vehicle crashes

Hu, Wen / Monfort, Samuel S. / Cicchino, Jessica B.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
November 2023

Introduction: Vehicles play an important role in pedestrian injury risk in crashes. This study examined the association between vehicle front-end geometry and the risk of fatal pedestrian injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
Method: A total of 17,897 police-reported crashes involving a single passenger vehicle and a single pedestrian in seven states were used in the analysis. Front-end profile parameters of vehicles (2,958 vehicle makes, series, and model years) involved in these crashes were measured from vehicle profile photos, including hood leading edge height, bumper lead angle, hood length, hood angle, and windshield angle. We defined a front-end-shape indicator based on the hood leading edge height and bumper lead angle. Logistic regression analysis evaluated the effects of these parameters on the risk that a pedestrian was fatally injured in a single-vehicle crash.
Results: Vehicles with tall and blunt, tall and sloped, and medium-height and blunt front ends were associated with significant increases of 43.6%, 45.4%, and 25.6% in pedestrian fatality risk, respectively, when compared with low and sloped front ends. There was a significant 25.1% increase in the risk if a hood was relatively flat as defined in this study. A relatively long hood and a relatively large windshield angle were associated with 5.9% and 10.7% increases in the risk, respectively, but the increases were not significant.
Conclusions: Automakers can make vehicles more pedestrian friendly by designing vehicle front ends that are lower and more sloped. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can consider evaluations that account for the growing hood heights and blunt front ends of the vehicle fleet in the New Car Assessment Program or regulation.

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