June 22, 2011
Study Shows that SUVs are Safer than Small Cars
SUVs once caught a bad rap as rollover-prone road hazards; however, as the sport utility vehicle has become the family car de rigueur for everyone from soccer moms to outdoorsy dads, automakers have made great strides to better protect parents' precious cargo. A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reflects this new emphasis upon passenger protection, with results confirming what SUV proponents have long surmised — that sport utility vehicles are in fact safer than small cars.
According to the IIHS, whose analysis ran from 2006 to 2009 and covered model years 2005 through 2008, SUVs had a rate of death of 28 deaths per million registered vehicles, while cars came in at 56 per million. The average rate of death for all applicable vehicles was 48 deaths per million. These results indicate a drop in death rates from the IIH's last analysis in 2007, which the Institute attributes to the increase in the application of electronic driver aids like stability control and traction control.
Among the safest SUVs on the road were the Ford Edge, Nissan Armada, and the Land Rover Range Rover and LR3, which each recorded zero deaths per million over the given period. Two full-size sedans, the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and one minivan, the Toyota Sienna, also had zero fatalities between 2006 and 2009.
A number of factors have likely contributed to the SUV's improved safety record, including the use of car frames instead of truck platforms, and the development of rollover protection systems. Many automakers have also adopted the practice of lowering the chassis of tall sport utility vehicles in an effort to prevent rollover.
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