The Orlando Sentinel reports on a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which says that passenger deaths for SUVs have fallen to become the lowest among all passenger vehicles, about 115 deaths per million vehicles. However, that was not always the case. In 1980, sport utility deaths were among the highest – 494 deaths per million vehicles, twice that of other cars, which dropped to 134 deaths per million in 2000.
The IIHS study of 2001 traffic deaths included vehicles from the 1998 to 2000 model years. Pickup trucks had the highest number of deaths at 170 passenger deaths per registered vehicles.
This is the first time SUVs have had a lower death rate than other vehicles. With a high center of gravity, sport utility vehicles were more prone to fatal rollovers. The IIHS reports in 2001, SUV rollover accidents led to 47 percent of deaths compared to 36 percent in trucks and 20 percent in passenger vehicles. Since then, stability control has been added and the center of gravity has been lowered in SUVs, many of which now sit on a car not a truck frame. SUVs also offer more protection and in a collision with a passenger car, the IIHS report finds. At 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, a smaller compact car’s passenger is most likely to suffer injuries or death.
The IIHS and common sense dictate that in a collision, a heavier vehicle is most likely to protect passengers from injury and death. With more than 30,000 fatal crashes in 2007, the Florida car accident lawyers at Farah & Farah encourage passengers and drivers of vehicles to avoid becoming a statistic by always wearing a seat belt, the most cost-effective safety equipment on any car.