High-riding SUVs known for their dangerous rollover tendencies are now less likely to be involved in the lethal crashes than ordinary cars, according to CNN.
Surprisingly, a driver of a 2009 model year sedan is nearly two times more likely to be killed in a rollover crash than a driver of a 2009 model year SUV. This shocking statistic is part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report on real-world auto accident fatality rates for a variety of vehicles.
According to the Institute, electronic stability control (ESC) in SUVs is the biggest factor for the decline in rollover and fatality rates for SUV drivers. ESC, which is available in all SUVs sold in the U.S., assists drivers in maintaining control during sudden maneuvers and on slick roads. This computer-based technology has greatly decreased the chances of SUVs to skid and roll over. SUVs are also being designed more like cars.
Consumers believed that the large, heavy, high-riding SUVs would keep them safer in a crash than other vehicles. But as more and more SUV rollover accidents occurred, the safety benefit dwindled. Thanks to ESC, SUVs are now safer than large cars. Only minivans are safer.
The Institute reports that annually from 2006 through 2009, drivers of newer SUVs endured about 28 deaths per million vehicles, which is half the death rate for car drivers — 56 fatalities per million vehicles. ESC technology is available in nearly all types of cars, but it is most common in SUVs. Stability control has helped reduce death rates across the board. Model year vehicles from 1989 to 1993 had a death rate of 110 per million registered vehicle years, compared with 48 for model years 2005 to 2008. Size does matter when it comes to vehicle safety. Though small cars do well on crash tests, they have the highest death rates. Large to mid-size vehicles tend to have lower death rates.
The vehicles with the lowest death rates include: the Audi A6 and the Mercedes Benz E-Class luxury cars, the Toyota Sienna minivan, the Ford Edge SUV, Nissan’s Armada SUV, the Land Rover Sport and LR3, and the Lexus GX 470 SUV.
The vehicles that are the least safe include: the Nissan 350Z sports car, the Titan pickup and Chevrolet’s Aveo and Cobalt.
It should be noted that none of the 26 lowest-rated vehicles had standard ESC, while nearly all of the top-rated vehicles did.
Check out vehicle safety ratings at safecars.gov.