Study finds SUVs safer than smaller cars in auto accidents

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Land Rover LR3

A study has found SUVs have become safer than many cars in crashes, as fewer people are killed in accidents in an SUV. The Land Rover LR3 (pictured) is among the safest, with a death rate of zero. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released a study about crash safety that found SUVs are becoming safer over time. Since the introduction of electronic stability features, the formerly top-heavy and roll-prone SUV is becoming a thing of the past.

Nissan 350Z statistically the most dangerous car on the road

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released a study concerning crash safety, according to USA Today, and the findings show some cars are getting safer. Some classes of cars are more safe than others, but death rates between vehicles in each class vary widely. Death rates were measured in deaths per million, the number of people who died in car crashes in every million cars made in a certain number of model years based on the available crash data. The least safe car was the small, sporty Nissan 350Z with a death rate of 143 deaths per million registered model years. The IIHS report had some good news, in that the overall death rate in vehicle crashes is declining. From 2005 to 2008, the death rate was 48 per million, compared to 79 from 2002 to 2005.

Electronic stability makes SUVs safer

SUVs are becoming a safer vehicle class, since the introduction of electronic stability controls, or ESC. From 1999 to 2002, SUVs had an overall death rate of 82 per million vehicles, which dropped to 28 per million from 2005 to 2008, the years the IIHS study looked at. ESC started becoming more common in SUVs in recent years, and all vehicles will be required to have it as of 2012, according to Automobile magazine. Death rates are also listed by three types of accidents: multi-vehicle, single vehicle and single vehicle rollover. Minivans were the safest class with 25 deaths per million, mostly in multi-vehicle accidents. SUVs, from small to full size, had fewer deaths per million in four wheel drive equipped vehicles. Pickup trucks had an overall rate of 52 deaths per million, though trucks with four wheel drive had lower rates of fatality than those without. The highest death rates in trucks occurred in single vehicle crashes.

Most cars are more dangerous

Cars had the highest death rates, with an overall rate of 56 deaths per million, mostly from multi-vehicle collisions. Small four-door cars, mini and mid-size sports cars had the highest rates, with death rates of 82, 83 and 80 deaths per million, respectively. Large luxury cars had the lowest death rate at 24 deaths per million. The safest vehicles were mostly foreign. The only American car among the seven vehicles with a death rate of zero was the Ford Edge SUV. The other six were the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and LR3, the Nissan Armada, the Audi A6 four-door 4WD, Mercedes E Class four-door 4WD and the Toyota Sienna. The cars with the highest death rates besides the Nissan 350Z with 143 deaths per million, were the Nissan Titan crew cab with 126, Chevrolet Aveo with 119 and Chevy Cobalt with 117.


USA Today


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (PDF – Requires Adobe Reader)

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