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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Are SUVs safer than traditional Compact Cars?

In today's world, we're all looking for the safest car, especially if we have families to look out for, but with many different stories flooding the media, it can be difficult to get an accurate and honest scope on which car is the safest. One of the age old car safety questions has always been 'Are SUVs safer than Compact Cars'.

Of course, it's true that both of them have their individual advantages and disadvantages. SUVs are bigger and stronger giving them an advantage in a crash with a smaller vehicle however they can be prone to roll-overs in a crash. If the driver of an SUV suffers a blow out or over-corrects to avoid going off the road, the SUV’s high center of gravity can cause it to tip over and, at high speeds, this can cause the vehicle to roll. To understand the physics involved, you can conduct a simple experiment using a small 1x2 or a 2x4 block of wood. To represent a sedan, or compact car, set the block on the wider side and try to tip it over. Now place the block on its narrow side and you can see that it can easily be tipped over. That is because the center of gravity is higher on its narrow side.

Until a few years ago, the major problem with SUVs in a rollover was that their roof didn't have enough strength to support the weight of the vehicle in a roll-over crash and that resulted in more injuries and deaths. Later models have had their roofs strengthened but there are still a lot of the older models on the road.

The truth is that, according to a study by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, injuries sustained in SUVs were no better or worse than those sustained in Compact Cars. What that means is that neither type of vehicle is safer than the other. This new research has been released to try and dispel common rumors that seem to state that 'bigger is safer'.

When looking for a safe car, it can be a maze, but don't let the media fool you. A little known fact about safety is that a car is only as safe as the person driving it. Driver behavior often influences risk so it's more than likely that the stories you heard about terrible collisions due to an SUV rolling over probably run right back to a driver driving an SUV like a sports car.

Many different things influence driver behavior, including; age, sex, driving history or seatbelt use all effect how a person drives. There are environmental variables to consider as well, such as road type, the time of the day and the weather.

Above all, it's important you remember not to get caught up with the media; each car is only as safe as the person who drives it. What you need to look for in a car is more practical safety features, such as seatbelts, steering and other vehicle safety features specific to that vehicle.

For more information on SUV safety please visit www.NationalSafetyCommission.com.

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Posted by NSC - Traffic Safety at


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