SUV: Survivability Undeniable Value

Each year in the U.S., about 30,000 people lose their lives in a motor vehicle crash. This fact leads researchers the world over to continually inquire into the factors contributing to highway deaths and to design safer vehicles and roads.

One such recent study was done at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Researchers used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to examine which drivers, in which vehicles, are most likely to survive a head-on collision.

Are SUVs Safer?

If your 20-year-old son drives an SUV, maybe you can worry a little less: The IU study found that survivability in head-on collisions is increased by driving a vehicle with a higher mass, driving a newer vehicle, being younger, being a male, using a seatbelt and having the airbag deployed in the crash.

A major cause of fatality, according to this research, is “vehicle inequity” – things like height, rigidity and weight of the vehicle. When all other variables are equal, drivers of automobiles are 9 times more likely to die in a collision than those in SUVs and 17 times more likely to die than drivers of light trucks.

This is not new news, but it does confirm what we have known from other research. A 2013 study conducted by the University of Buffalo concluded that in a head-on collision between a passenger car and a sport-utility vehicle, the driver of the SUV is as much as 10 times more likely to survive. And that was found to be the case regardless of the passenger car’s crash safety rating.

How SUV Safety is Tested

The crash safety rating referred to results from testing done by NHTSA. The 5-Star Safety Ratings Program was initiated in 1978 and measures the level of safety for vehicle occupants in frontal and side crashes and rollovers. The ratings are posted on the window stickers required to be on all new vehicles.

Years ago, the safety of SUVs was questionable, because of their propensity to roll over. But today’s SUVs are considerably safer because of design improvements, electronic stability controls and special airbags, combined with the vehicles’ size and weight advantage. Now, according to a 2011 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “drivers of today’s SUVs are among the least likely to die in a crash.”

Staying Safe on Indiana’s Roads

There are numerous factors, of course, that influence highway safety, including use of seatbelts, avoiding distracting technology, choosing not to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, obeying traffic laws, and properly maintaining the vehicle, whether it is a Mini Cooper or a Chevy Tahoe. If you or your family member has been hurt in an Indiana motor vehicle accident, McNeely Stephenson will help you obtain compensation from a negligent driver. Give us a call at 1-317-825-5200.