SUVs — high-riding and gas-guzzling — are safer to drive, according to the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report. People in 2009 cars are twice as likely to die in a rollover accident as people in 2009 SUVs. The reason for the declining SUV death rate is that electronic stability control — a “computer-based system that helps drivers maintain control during abrupt maneuvers and on slippery roads,” says CNN — is now widely available on SUVs; the new technology has reduced the “tendency of SUVs to skid and flip over.”
The report also notes that “sheer size is still a big factor in auto safety.” According to the report, small cars have the highest death rates, while mid-sized or larger ones have lower scores. Also, the not-so-popular minivans rates as safer than an SUV.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a private group financed by auto insurers.
NBC Los Angeles also says specifies which models are safest, according to the report. The Ford Edge, Nissan Armada, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Land Rover LR3 and Honda CR-V have the lowest such rates; among luxury car models, the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class are noted.
The report (which you can read here) brings to mind advice my dad always gave me, that big cars are safer “because you want to be in a bigger car than the one that hits you” (Thanks, dad.) Ok, that’s probably not exactly what my dad said back when I was a teenager. I do remember that, when I tried to argue for a smaller car (Volkswagen bug, Honda Civic hatchback), my arguments about paying less for gas and being able to fit in a greater percentage of parking places met deaf ears.
One wants to drive as green as vehicle as possible, but — certainly around here in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area, it’s just true that too many big black or white SUVs are on the road and when they shove themselves into your lane, one has little choice but to let them in.
It is somewhat ironic that, even while we may be safer driving around in Hummer-size vehicles, or in Hummers themselves, drivers of such bigger cars are, if indirectly, causing greater damage to the planet by consuming more gas and oil and emitting more carbon dioxide. Safety, it seems, comes with price tag.
Photo by ANATOLI AXELROD.