PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland transportation officials are asking federal leaders to place stricter regulations on the large trucks, SUVs and vans that contribute to traffic fatalities throughout the U.S.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation shared a social media post earlier this week that reads, in part, “The percentage of large vehicles on our streets is increasing, and this trend has negative consequences for people walking, biking, and rolling.”
PBOT cited data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which shows that the market share of SUVs, trucks and vans grew from 45% in 2012 to about 74% in 2021.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety additionally reports that the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities has grown almost every year since 2009, with SUVs, pick-up trucks and vans being more likely to hit pedestrians than cars.
Another IIHS-funded study asserts that vehicle-cyclist accidents are more likely to cause severe head injuries when the driver is in an SUV instead of a car — a salient statistic for a city like Portland that has a reputation for being a cyclist-friendly community.
The Portland transportation bureau previously revealed that traffic fatalities reached a historic high of 63 in 2021 and 2022. Agency Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera says most victims were walking and biking.
So in August, PBOT joined several local and national organizations that urged the U.S Department of Transportation to stop issuing 5-star safety ratings to the vehicles that pose the most danger for pedestrians.
According to the letter shared by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, most vehicles get 4-star or 5-star safety ratings under the current New Car Assessment Program. The organization alleges that the program only considers the safety of the people within the car, rather than the people outside of them as well.
Portland transportation officials say safe vehicle design is an important part of their Vision Zero program that sets out to make roads safer.
“Portland is using every tool at our disposal to build safer, slower streets and create a culture of shared responsibility,” Rivera said in a statement. “We need [The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] to do their part to improve vehicle safety, including strengthening NCAP and factoring pedestrian crashworthiness tests into overall vehicle safety ratings.”