SUVs may be the safest choice of all, study says


By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert

It’s safe to say that most consumers want high ratings and superb crash performance when it comes to purchasing a car. Things like airbags, anti-lock brakes, lane-departure warnings, rear-view cameras and brake-assist technology are also factors when it comes to making a final purchasing decision. After all, most individuals want safe cars with high ratings for the

perceived protection against car accidents


But according to a new study at the State University of New York, University of Buffalo, crash-safety ratings may be just that – a perceived notion of protection. That’s because, according to researchers, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) may be an overall safer bet when it comes to accident protection, even against passenger vehicles with higher safety ratings.

The study was presented at the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine in Atlanta, later published in the EB Reporter.

“When two vehicles are involved in a crash, the overwhelming majority of fatalities occur in the smaller and lighter of the two vehicles,” said Dietrich Jehle, UB professor of emergency medicine at Erie County Medical Center and first author.

Researchers found that drivers in passenger cars were 10 times more likely to die if the opposing SUV had a higher crash-safety rating. And even if the passenger car held a better rating than the SUV, drivers were still four times more likely to die in the accident despite the higher rating.

“When the two vehicles are of similar weights, outcomes are still better in the SUVs,” he said, “because in frontal crashes, SUVs tend to ride over shorter passenger vehicles due to bumper mismatch, crushing the occupant of the passenger car.”

Crash ratings aside, the odds of a fatality for drivers in passenger cars were seven times more likely than those in SUVs in all head-on collisions.

As for rollover risk, Jehle noted that SUVs are much safer than they were a decade ago.

“Currently, the larger SUVs are some of the safest cars on the roadways, with fewer rollovers and outstanding outcomes in frontal crashes with passenger vehicles,” he said.

“Passenger vehicles with excellent safety ratings may provide a false degree of confidence to the buyer regarding the relative safety of these vehicles as demonstrated by our findings,” he added. “Consumers should take into consideration the increased safety of SUVs in head-on crashes with passenger vehicles when purchasing a car.”


The study at University of Buffalo paints only one part of the picture. While SUVs may indeed be a safer choice when it comes to accident protection, it doesn’t mean you’ll be completely immune to accidents. When it comes to your safety, you can do a lot to prevent an accident. To stay safe no matter what car you drive, remember:

Avoid Distractions

Accidents caused by distractions don’t discriminate against passenger vehicles or SUVs. Always make sure to reduce or entirely remove all distractions including radio, GPS, iPods and – needless to say – cell phones. Never use your cell to talk to text while driving!

Stop for Yellow Lights

Remember, in the state of California, you must stop for a yellow light if you can do so safety. So instead of gunning it at first glance of a yellow light, slow down and stop. Not only will you avoid the potential of a red light ticket, but you most importantly may save a life – even if it’s your own.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Fatalities can be significantly reduced when you wear your seatbelt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent. That’s an incredible statistic, so always buckle-up and make sure children are secured either in a booster or infant car seat.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the

Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC

in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time.