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Do SUVs protect occupants from accident injuries?

Sport utility vehicles are common in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Although they are usually more expensive to buy and to maintain, they offer various advantages over standard cars. One of the big perceived advantages of SUVs is the safety that they provide for the occupants in the vehicle.

Just fifteen or twenty years ago, fatalities from SUV rollover crashes were a major concern in the auto industry and for people who owned or were considering purchasing an SUV.However, engineering and technological advancements have vastly decreased the rollover propensity for SUVs. Thus, today's SUVs are safer than ever before. But, are SUVs really safer than cars, and if so why?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent non-profit organization that conducts scientific studies and crash research, people in bigger and heavier vehicles are better protected from injury in the event of an auto accident. Likewise, in a collision between a heavier vehicle, like an SUV, and a car, the SUV will tend to push the car backward, which reduces the impact force on the people in the SUV. Of course, the flip side of that is that when these kinds of accidents occur, the people in the smaller vehicle may suffer catastrophic injuries.

Not surprisingly, IIHS data shows that driver death rates are lower for larger vehicles like SUVs, and that smaller vehicles suffer more damage in collisions with these larger vehicles. Not only does the weight difference create a mismatch between the two types of vehicles, but so too does the design. Smaller vehicles can under-ride SUVs in a collision, which leads to a greater risk of injury and death to people in the smaller vehicle. However, SUV design innovations have helped to alleviate this problem.

No vehicle is perfectly safe for everyone on the roadway, but SUVs are somewhat of a double-edged sword; they protect occupants while posing some greater dangers to people in smaller vehicles. Anyone who is injured in a car accident involving an SUV should understand the cause of the accident and how each driver's actions, along with the vehicles themselves, may have contributed to the resulting injuries.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Vehicle size and weight," Accessed on Sept. 11, 2015

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New Orleans, LA 70119
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