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Compared to almost every other vehicle on the road, despite the fact that SUVs are big and heavy, they are not as safe as you might think. Not only are they more dangerous for the driver and passengers inside, they are also more dangerous to other cars on the road in the event of an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes this danger to two factors: the tendency to roll over and effect on other cars.
Experts first began to study rollovers in SUVs as far back as 1988, with the small Suzuki Samurai. The tendency for an SUV to flip or roll over was a concern then that has only grown larger over the years. There are certain aspects of an SUV's design that adds to its tendency to roll. These include:
- SUVs ride higher than other cars.
- SUVs are heavier than other cars.
- Cornering or turning causes tire friction that leads to rollover.
- Due to its classification as a light truck, SUVs are not required to meet the same side impact crash safety or bumper standards as passenger cars.
Effects in a Crash
Though most cars are judged for safety based on how they protect their driver and passengers, there has been more and more attention paid to the effect of SUVs on other vehicles in a car crash. In a car accident involving an SUV and a passenger car, those in the passenger car are four times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than those in the SUV.
Some design differences that cause the problems for the SUV and other vehicles in a car accident include:
- Designed to ride eight inches higher than a car.
- An SUV frame is more rigid, being made of two steel rails instead of the usual one steel rail.
- Height and frames of SUVs make them extra lethal to people riding in smaller vehicles. Differences in vehicle weight did not account for the extra risk.
A Few Statistics
- Light trucks or SUVs crashing into passenger cars are the causes of most fatal injuries in car accidents.
- 80% of drivers feel strongly that car companies should design safety changes in SUVs in order to protect others on the road.
- SUVs are three times more likely to roll over in an accident than other passenger cars.
- The rate of rollovers as the cause of fatalities in car accidents? SUVs claim 37% while only 15% is true for passenger cars.
- Annually, rollovers caused death in more than half of all SUV accidents. Rollovers caused death in only 19% of passenger cars involved in accidents.
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