New NHTSA Data – Vehicle Data Shows Popular Pickup Trucks Are Most Common Vehicles In Pedestrian And Bicyclist Deaths

This is part two in a series on new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Part one looked at driver-related data elements. In total, 17 data elements were added to the query fields available in the Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST). This post looks at five data elements that provided data on pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.

One data element provides “Striking Vehicle Body Type” and shows that passenger cars are the most common striking vehicle body type in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths, accounting for more than 28% of pedestrian deaths and more than 26% of bicyclist deaths. Sport utility vehicles are the second most common vehicle type, and had a large increase in percentage of deaths for both pedestrians and bicyclists between 2007 and 2021. Pickup trucks, surprisingly, did not increase in their percentage of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths, instead showing modest decreases in percentage for both.

Looking at the data element “striking vehicle model” shows that popular pickup trucks have been the striking vehicle in the most pedestrian and bicyclist deaths over time. The Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, and Dodge Ram/Ram 1500 were the top three striking vehicles in pedestrian bicyclist deaths between 2007 and 2021, and also some of the best-selling vehicles during that time. The NHTSA data provides no data to contextualize vehicles according to sales, registration, or other figures to adjust data based on the popularity of certain models. Many of the most common striking vehicle models are best-selling models, although pickup trucks are more represented in bicyclist deaths compared to pedestrian deaths.

Looking at vehicle models over time, the Chevrolet Silverado sticks out for being the striking vehicle in the most pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in 2020 and 2021.

The three other data elements added don’t provide as interesting data:

  • “Striking Vehicle Body Class” is similar to “striking vehicle body type,” but is less grouped and more suitable for detailed analysis.
  • “Striking Vehicle Make” provides data on manufacturers broadly, but is limited in its value by the diversity of vehicles made under the same brand name.
  • “Striking Vehicle Model Year” tends to show that traffic deaths are somewhat similarly distributed over about 20 years of model years in any given year. This speaks to how slow of a process it is for vehicle safety features and vehicle risk factors to affect the vehicle fleet, even if they can have profound effects on individual interactions with vehicles.

One more post is left in this series, and it will cover speed-related data elements.