FAQ: Am I Safer in an SUV or Car?

The debate has endured for years with no clear cut winner.

While SUVs are larger and seemingly better able to protect passengers, they can have a tendency to roll over, greatly increasing the likelihood of death.  Cars, on the other hand, typically roll over less than SUVs, but their smaller size may leave passengers less protected in an accident.

So, which vehicle is safer?

A 2007 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which focused on crash statistics from 2002 to 2005 and car model years ranging from 2001 to 2004, found that SUVs generally were safer than cars.  In a comparison of driver death rates by vehicle type, 12 of the 16 worst rated vehicles were cars.

Of the 15 best rated vehicles, SUVs accounted for 7 spots, while only 5 cars made the list.  It should be noted that there is some disparity among SUV types as the same study showed that SUVs classified as mid-sized or large were safer than SUVs categorized as small or very large.

Crash statistics from 2005 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) corroborate the IIHS’s findings.  According to the NHTSA, driver fatalities from any type of crash were less in SUVs than in cars, and the gap steadily widens each year.

While safety should always be your number one concern, you should also consider that West Virginians pay more to operate and to insure SUVs than typical passenger vehicle.


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