‘He was fast … he ran you right over’: what it’s like to get hit by an SUV

Photograph: macondo/Alamy

One Thursday afternoon, I stepped out to cross a city street – and woke up in hospital with broken bones and a brain injury. After I recovered, I started looking into why so many drivers just don’t stop


The EU is moving in that direction. This year, a feature called intelligent speed assistance (ISA) became mandatory for all auto models introduced to the EU market, and it will be required in new vehicles sold in Europe beginning in 2024. ISA isn’t foolproof. It allows drivers to choose the warnings and speed limitations they’ll experience. Automatic deceleration is optional. Still, ISA can influence drivers to be safer. As Morris noted, though, it’s highly unlikely that people in the US will ever allow the government to prevent them from speeding.

One reason she finds driving stressful is that she refuses to speed. On her city commute, she said, “I’m going 25mph and I stick to it. Everybody’s passing me. That takes a lot of joy out of driving because I try so hard to adhere perfectly to the speed limit while my neighbours are just so wilfully disregarding it.” Witnessing life-threatening behaviour every day, she added, “wears on my soul”.

Most likely, my driver was going less than 25mph when he hit me. Otherwise, I would have been more severely injured or killed. Pedestrian fatality rates rise quickly for vehicles travelling over 30mph.

I could find out how fast he was driving. A traffic camera recorded the collision. I could file a request to get a copy of the video. Watching it, I would be able to see myself start across the street and determine whether I was wearing headphones. Maybe I could spot whether the driver was on his phone. I would see how we collided, how my groceries scattered, and whether I held out my right hand as if to stop his vehicle, if that’s why the ends of my fingernails were torn off, the back of my hand purple, the nerves around my knuckles deadened. The video would show me hitting the pavement, the SUV passing over me, bystanders turning to help, and the driver stepping out of his car. Then, at least from a distance, I could finally meet the man I think of every day because of my shoulder pain, nerve damage, blurred vision and dizzy spells. But I won’t request the video. I have to leave some questions unanswered. I’m grateful not only for my brain’s remarkable healing, but also for keeping my lost hours lost to me, for sparing me the full terror of my experience.

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