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Feature   September 1, 2002   by CARS Magazine

University Study Finds SUV’s Not Safer Than Cars

A Reuter's news report cited on just-auto.com from the University of Michigan and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals that sport utility vehicles are not only more dangerous to drivers o...


A Reuter’s news report cited on just-auto.com from the University of Michigan and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals that sport utility vehicles are not only more dangerous to drivers of passenger cars in accidents, but put their drivers at greater risk, too. The study also concluded that the not-surprising attitude of invincibility large SUV’s offer has lulled many owners into the belief that they are safer in the larger vehicles. “On average they are as risky as the average mid-size or large car, and no safer than many of the most popular compact and subcompact models”, states the report, adding, “our main results are that sport utility vehicles are not necessarily safer for their drivers than cars.” The research used U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data for traffic deaths in vehicles sold between 1995 and 1999.

“We focused on the risk not only to occupants of the vehicle model in question in all types of crashes, but also on the risk to the drivers of other vehicles involved in crashes with the model in question,” Tom Wenzel, a researcher at the Berkeley laboratory who co-wrote the report, told Reuters. “Some of the higher risk in SUVs relative to cars is due to the tendency of SUVs to roll over and the danger to these types of crashes to unbelted drivers,” the report said, concluding that the design of the SUV was the dominant factor, rather than the sheer size of the vehicle.