Bigger Isn't Always Safer

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

January 3, 2006

For years people thought the larger the car, the safer the vehicle, but not anymore. According to a new study, Sport Utility Vehicles are just as safe as cars.

When it comes to buying the family car, safety is the number one priority. More and more Americans think sport utility vehicles are it.

"I just like a little bigger vehicle if there is, God forbid, any sort of crash," said Matthew Wyckoff, an SUV driver.

"[I like] being able to get around in the city, [and not worry about] the children's safety," said Laverne Campbell, another SUV driver.

However, a new study of about 4000 accidents involving children finds SUVs are no safer than cars. The saying "bigger-equals-safer" has helped fuel the growing popularity of SUVs, but according to the new study, it's a myth.

In an Alliance of Automobile Maufacturers Statement, car manufacturers said "SUVs have an exceptional safety record and are safer or as safe as cars in the vast majority of crashes."

"But what they're overlooking is the fact that these SUVs roll over at a rate of up to 4 times that of passenger cars," said Clarence Ditlow, from the Center for Auto Safety.

In fact, the Journal Pediatrics study found the extra weight of SUVs did reduce the risk of injury, but that was offset by the increased risk of rollovers.

Automakers have made strides in preventing rollovers, but new legislation may speed up the process. Congress is forcing the Department of Transportation to develop standards for automakers including improving stability in turns and increasing roof strength.

Meanwhile, parents need to remember that no matter what they drive, the same rules apply. Children should always wear a seat belt and sit in the back seat.

SUVs still remain popular. There are 28 million SUVs on America's highways today.

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