SUVs cause more severe injuries than cars when they hit cyclists, a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has shown.

Researchers suggested the reason is because the vehicles’ tall front ends strike cyclists higher on their bodies.

“SUVs tend to knock riders down, where they can also be run over, rather than vaulting them onto the hood of the vehicle,” said IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort, the lead author of the study. “That’s probably because the higher front end of an SUV strikes the cyclist above their center of gravity.”

In the study, researchers looked at detailed crash data from 71 Michigan bicycle crashes compiled by the International Center for Automotive Medicine’s Pedestrian Consortium. Each crash involved a bicyclist age 16 or older and a single SUV or car. The data included police reports, medical records, crash reconstructions and other information.

Researchers analyzed how injuries and other aspects of crashes varied for cars and SUVs.

Ground-impact injuries — a frequent cause of head injuries — were more than twice as common in SUV crashes than those involving cars, the study showed.

The findings follow earlier IIHS research that showed SUVs are more lethal than cars to pedestrians despite design changes that have made them less dangerous to other vehicles. That study also traced the increased risk to the height of SUVs’ front ends.

Fatal bicycle crash rates have risen dramatically over the past decade. In 2020, 932 bicyclists were killed on US roads, up from a low of 621 in 2010. The IIHS suggested one reason may be the dominance of pickups and SUVs in the US vehicle fleet.