Are you Safer Driving an SUV or a Car? Insurance Institute Finds Small Cars can Be Safe Too.

May 27, 2011,

The streets of Orange County are filled with cars of all makes and models. Which is safest? The debate has endured for years: am I safer driving a large SUV or a car? No clear cut winner has been picked. In the past, however, small cars have not been picked by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as a Top Safety Pick Award. Small cars are smaller than SUVs and therefore may leave passengers more unprotected. SUV's, however, though larger and seemingly better able to protect passengers in an accident, have a tendency to roll-over during an a collision, greatly increasing the risk of death. Thumbnail image for toyota_prius.jpg

So which is safer? I have personally driven both and in my years of practice I have seen serious injuries and deaths arise from accidents in both SUVs and cars. In 2007, the IIHS, which focused on crash statistics from 2002 to 2005, and car model years ranging from 2001 to 2004, found that SUVs were generally safer than cars. In reviewing the statistics of driver deaths by vehicle type, 12 of the 16 top spots were held by cars.

Of the 15 best rated vehicles in 2007, SUVs held seven of the top spots. The term SUV can be deceiving, however, as SUVs vary in size like milk shakes: small, medium and large. In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) corroborated the IIHS's finding . According to NHTSA, driver fatalities from any type of crash were lower than those in cars.

That was then, this is now. Car manufacturers have looked at these statistics, have listened to consumers and learned from product liability cases against them that safety is a priority for drivers and their families. The IIHS announced on May 26, 2011, that six of the thirteen small cars evaluated by them have earned the IIHS's Top Safety Pick Award and none earned a poor rating. Many of these smaller cars, are very fuel efficient, and still maintain the highest crash ratings in their class.

The big change for small cars since IIHS' 2007 test has been the addition of safety equipment. These days all of these small cars have standard side airbags and other safety equipment to help prevent crashes altogether. The Hyundai Elantra has made a dramatic change from 2007 to 2011, going from one of the lowest rated cars in model years 2001-03 to a Top Safety Pick in 2011. Better front crush zones, stronger occupant compartments and stronger roofs have helped Hyundai achieve this award.

Even with these safety features, injuries still occur. After an accident, you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Cohn & Swartzon has been handling car accident personal injury lawsuits for many years and have helped individuals and families in and around Orange County, California and surrounding areas, including Santa Ana, Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Anaheim, Fullerton, Brea and the surrounding communities.

Related Blogs:

The Basics of Orange County Personal Injury Cases: Part I - Car Accidents

Related Web Resources:

2007 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Picks

NHTSA 2005 Statistics

Insurance Institute Finds Small Cars can Be Safe Too