think you’re safer in an suv? think again ...

NYT0816autovSUV.chart.jpegAccording to an article in the New York Times, SUVs are becoming even more unsafe than cars, rather than closing that safety gap. In Safety Gap Grows Wider Between S.U.V.'s and Cars, the decrease in SUV safety is mainly attributed to SUVs' tendency to roll over.
"The traffic safety agency reported last week that there were 16.42 deaths of S.U.V. occupants in accidents last year for every 100,000 registered S.U.V.'s. The figure for passenger cars was 14.85 deaths for each 100,000 registered; pickups were slightly higher than cars at 15.17 deaths per 100,000, while vans were lowest at 11.2 occupant deaths for every 100,000 registered."

"Rollover risk, though, is only one part of the safety picture. In crashes between vehicles, heavier vehicles tend to perform better than lighter ones, which is one reason that the smallest cars tend to have the highest occupant-fatality rates. The ways that people who own different types of vehicles tend to drive them is also a factor, especially in the case of sports cars.

"But weight is not a simple proxy for safety. In a federal crash study this year, large passenger cars and station wagons, averaging about 3,600 pounds unloaded, were found to have a death rate of 3.3 for each billion miles traveled; they were second only to minivans, which had a rate of 2.76.

"Ranked third safest after the large-car category were the largest, tanklike sport utility vehicles, which weigh in at an average of 5,100 pounds unloaded; their death rate was 3.79 for every billion miles. Midsize cars, averaging just over 3,000 pounds unloaded, had a 5.26 fatality rate; midsize S.U.V.'s, by far the most popular type, with an average weight over 4,000 pounds, had a death rate of 6.73 in the study."

So it's those mid-range SUVs, the ones taking over the roads and driven mainly by people who don't know how to drive them, that are the deadliest vehicles on the road today. Interesting in light of how many people rationalize buying them by claiming their kids are safer in them.

One of the stupidest things I've read lately was Eartha Kitt's response to her recent accident, covered first and best in Her Range Rover flipped over when a Mercedes struck her right rear bumper in a low-speed accident in a Westport intersection. She said the SUV saved her life due to its sturdy construction. Apparently, she didn't bother to think about the fact that maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't have landed upside down in the middle of road if she'd been driving anything but an SUV.

At the very least, insurance rates for SUVs should double. And I don't see why it can't be mandatory that people who drive SUVs be required to take a driving course designed specifically for handling vehicles with high centers of gravity -- they are NOT cars and they do require extra training to operate them safely. If a driver can't pass the course, no SUV driving permit. Bet it would save a few thousand lives per year.

So, mommies and daddies who claim they want to keep their kiddies safe, go get a minivan. Those are the safest vehicles. Otherwise, just quit with the BS and admit that you drive an SUV because you're a trend sheep.

MORE: Find out how your vehcle rates by checking out the NHTSA test results. Go here for information in general about vehicle safety ratings.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/17/04 at 09:15 AM
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