SUVs Safer than Cars in Front Crashes

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm point to a new study by the University of Buffalo which revealed that the odds of death in a car were 7.6 times greater than for those in an SUV. Additionally, a separate study found that more than 60% of all distracted driving-related fatalities were caused not by cell phones, but by simple daydreaming.

This second set of data was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in studying the traffic deaths between 2010 and 2011. According to the federal agency, about ten of every 65,000 roadway fatalities were caused by distracted driving, and the top reason for these crashes was attributed to drivers becoming “lost in thought.”

Talking and texting on cell phones was the second-most cited reason for the crashes, accounting for about 12% of all fatalities. Distracted driving is defined by any activity that takes drivers’ eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the primary task of driving. The most troubling aspect of this phenomenon is that most of the distractions causing these roadway fatalities are somewhat beyond regulation. Drivers habitually and legally engage in various tasks while driving, such as talking to other occupants, listening to music, smoking, eating and drinking, and yes, daydreaming.

In attempt to curb these deaths, ten states and the District of Columbia initiated laws banning all motorists, regardless of age, from using handheld cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Another 39 states prohibit text messaging specifically, and a few others forbid cell phone use only by minor drivers.

Despite these laws and the national campaigns to accompany them, nearly 70% of all licensed motorists recently surveyed by AAA admitted to using a cell phone while driving within the last month. AAA also found that those drivers engaging in cell phone use while driving were more likely to engage in other types of dangerous behavior, such as speeding, driving while drowsy, and not using a seat belt.

Going back to the first story mentioned by the University of Buffalo may provide some much-needed insight to drivers shopping for the safest car to protect from dangerous drivers. For the study researchers matched cars versus SUVs in crash tests. As stated, in a head-on crash, results showed that the odds of death for car passengers were 7.6 times higher than for the SUV driver. Cars with better front crash-test ratings fared a bit better, but car drivers were still 4.5 times more likely to die than SUV drivers.

Researchers examined data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database, which is managed by the federal government, and stores information from more than 80,000 crashes. They found that, at least in terms of head-on crashes, vehicle type was much more important in terms of survival than the crash-test rating. There is, however, more to choosing a safe vehicle than simply picking the largest model.

SUVs have a higher center of gravity than do cars, making them more prone to rollovers, which are often fatal, particularly for those not using seat belts (most of the 6,800 rollover fatalities in 2010 were not wearing seat belts). For this reason, electronic stability control technology is highly recommended, as it significantly reduces the overall rollover risk. This technology was made mandatory in 2012, though it was widely used in vehicles even before that year.

Researchers noted that consumers should choose vehicles with up-to-date safety equipment, like anti-lock brakes, stability control, and curtain airbags. Choosing a vehicle with good Consumer Reports and various government and insurance crash tests is important as well.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight the importance of staying alert, buckled up, and safe on the road. Engaging in dangerous behavior behind the wheel puts not only yourself at risk, but the countless others on the road with you as well. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a crash caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.


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