In the past, drivers were warned against purchasing SUVs, as they reportedly had a high risk of being involved in a rollover accident. That's no longer the case: in fact, drivers of SUVs are now much safer than those in cars, according to USA Today. Drivers of these vehicles are now among the least likely to die in a car accident in Columbia and elsewhere in the country.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) now reports that because of a new technology, electronic stability control, SUVs now receive much higher safety ratings. Electronic stability control utilizes the vehicle's braking system and engine power to help keep these large vehicles on the roadway -- often preventing skids or rollover accidents. After its implementation, the death rate for SUV drivers dropped nearly 70%, from 82 deaths per million vehicles in 1999 to 2002 models to 28 deaths per million in 2005 to 2008 models.
"The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that's no longer the case," says Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research. "It's a dramatic change and a testament to the incredible effectiveness of electronic stability control."
This trend has taken shape even as more motorists switch to smaller cars amid concerns about higher gas prices. According to Erich Merkle, Ford Motor Company's sales analyst, small cars accounted for approximately 24% of vehicles purchased in February 2012. That's a 4% increase from 2 months ago. In response to the growing popularity of smaller vehicles with better gas mileage, automakers continue to develop more efficient cars. During his weekly radio address on March 3, President Obama said that cars averaging nearly 55 miles per gallon will be available by 2025. The current standard is about 23.7 miles per gallon.
But what about safety concerns? Data reports indicate that the death rate in small sedans was 72 per million vehicles in 2005 to 2008 models. This figure only represents a 35% decrease from the death rate of 110 per million vehicles in 1999 to 2002 models. Safety officials believe that the focus needs to be placed on improvements in the safety of small cars, which are often involved in accidents with these larger vehicles.
"The trend from the reported data is clear: The lighter the vehicle, the higher the likelihood that its driver will be killed in a collision with another vehicle," says Mukul Verma, a veteran auto industry safety official.
Current death rates are as follows:
• Minivans: 25 driver deaths per million registration years
• SUVs: 28 driver deaths per million registration years
• Pickups: 52 driver deaths per million registration years
• Cars: 56 driver deaths per million registration years
It is important to remember that large cars perform better than small ones. Compact four-door cars have a death rate of 72 driver deaths per million registration years, while larger four-door sedans have a death rate of 46 driver deaths per million registration. "For years, small cars have represented the low end of the economic spectrum and received fewer safety and enhanced design features," says Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies, which advises plaintiff lawyers, government and auto suppliers. "Undoubtedly, that has an effect."
Drivers are urged to look into the safety ratings of a vehicle they may be thinking about purchasing as the type of vehicle you drive may just be able to save your life in a car accident. Click here to view the IIHS's brochure, "Shopping for a Safer Car: 2012."
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in Ashland, Camdenton, Linn Creek, Marshall or any of the surrounding areas, call 1-888-777-AUTO today for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
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