SUV Owners of America Says SUVs are 5 to 7 Percent Safer than Passenger Cars

In anticipation of the release of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Early Assessment” of 2006 traffic crashes, SUV Owners of America, released today an expert analysis of 1997-2005 data for vehicle performance in all kinds of crashes. It found that SUVs are 5-7 percent safer than passenger cars in reducing fatality risk. This is particularly important for consumers that may be downsizing to cut fuel costs — a dangerous tradeoff.

SUVOA President Barry McCahill said, “The public is being told by some that small cars are now as safe as larger cars and SUVs, and can do all the same things. But, 99 percent of cars can no longer tow a boat or camp trailer, and small cars are not as safe as larger cars and SUVs. Just as important, light trucks like minivans and SUVs can carry more passengers safely than passenger cars.”

“It’s also inaccurate to say that SUV drivers are causing more deaths to occupants of smaller vehicles. There has been no increase in fatalities because of the size mismatch between SUVs and cars, and in 2005 the trend even turned downward for these kinds of crashes,” he added.

“People buy vehicles that meet their needs, and they like to do so with good information in hand. Our intent in augmenting the NHTSA 2006 early fatality summary is not to advocate the purchase of any vehicle type, but to provide additional perspective,” he said. “We also advise consumers to read the comprehensive new data summary now available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).”

These are the key findings based on vehicles that were involved in crashes:

— When the analysis considers only driver fatalities (focusing more on the vehicle’s performance), and most recent years data (2003-2005) to include the contribution of the newest safety features, SUVs are 5-7 percent safer than passenger cars.

— In crashes involving a light truck/van (includes SUVS) and a passenger car, occupant fatalities in passenger cars remained fairly constant from 2001-2004, but between 2004-2005 they declined by 4.3 percent.

— For both passenger cars and SUVs there has been a substantial reduction in overall occupant fatality rates, and by 2005 the rates are virtually identical per 100,000 registered vehicles (13.64, passenger car / 13.84, SUVs).

— For both passenger cars and SUVs the occupant fatality rates in rollover crashes have decreased. The percentage reduction from 1997-2005 is 15.7 percent for passenger cars and more than 19 percent for SUVs.

— When considering the more prevalent frontal, side and rear crashes, by 2005 SUVs had become about twice as safe as passenger cars. In 2005, SUVs had an occupant fatality rate in these crashes that was nearly 50 percent lower than passenger cars (10.42, passenger cars / 5.56 SUVs).

A copy of the full report (with graphics) is available at

SUVOA is a non-profit consumer organization dedicated to supporting the rights and serving the interests of more than 80 million SUV, pickup, crossover and Van Owners of America. Founded in 1999, SUVOA strives to ensure balanced media reporting of light truck issues and represents our supporters by educating federal and state policymakers.

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