SUVs Are No Longer a Serious Threat to Smaller Vehicles – But the Same Cannot Be Said of Pickup Trucks

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SUVs Are No Longer a Serious Threat to Smaller Vehicles – But the Same Cannot Be Said of Pickup Trucks

SUVs Are No Longer a Serious Threat to Smaller Vehicles – But the Same Cannot Be Said of Pickup Trucks

While those in smaller cars may not feel as safe when driving next to a tall SUV, the truth is that SUVs are no longer a huge threat to those in small vehicles. This is according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Unfortunately, the news is not all good: Pickup truck accidents still result in a much higher danger when crashing with vehicles. Keep reading to find out and then contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 if you need help from a car accident attorney.

Weight Imbalance is Likely the Issue

Regulators once assumed that the biggest issue causing more serious accidents with SUVs and trucks was the fact that they weigh so much more than a typical vehicle. However, it has become clear as SUVs become safer and less likely to demolish smaller cars that there is something else going on. Experts point to the fact that pickup trucks are still very imbalanced as far as weight goes.

Increased Safety in SUVs and Minivans

SUVs and minivans began to be much safer in 2011. As the years have gone on, experts say that these vehicles are built with stronger structures as well as side airbags. Both can help to reduce the impact in the event of an accident. Newer vehicles also have lowered front ends that more closely align with cars bumpers to better absorb the energy of impact.

Increased Safety in Smaller Cars

Of course, it must be noted that the fact that smaller cars have become safer is also a big factor in the reduction of danger for crashes in these vehicles and SUVs. Smaller cars and minicars have long had the worst crash ratings of all vehicles but have made significant improvements in recent years.

Although the voluntary commitment resulted in more compatible pickup designs too, pickup-car compatibility is still lacking. The car driver death rate in crashes with pickups increased steadily between 1989 and 2008, relative to the car driver death rate in crashes with other cars. This gap began to close over the last decade but remains large. In 2013-16, pickups were 2½ times as likely to be involved in a crash that was fatal for a car or minivan driver than other cars and minivans were.

To see how much of the remaining problem is due to weight differences versus design issues, the researchers repeated their analysis with only vehicles weighing between 3,500 and 4,000 pounds. The car driver death rate in crashes with light pickups in this weight range was just 23 percent higher than it was in crashes with cars of similar weight. The car driver death rate in crashes with light SUVs of this weight was slightly lower than in crashes with cars. These results point to weight differences as a likely source of continued incompatibility.

But would shedding weight make pickups and SUVs less protective of their own occupants? To find out, researchers also looked at death rates among the pickup and SUV drivers themselves. For the earlier years, the death rates among light pickup and light SUV drivers were much higher compared with their full-sized counterparts. In 2013-16, however, lighter vehicles were not associated with as much of an increase in driver death rates. In other words, higher curb weight doesn’t seem to play as big a role in protecting SUV and pickup occupants as it once did.

“More sophisticated designs that do a better job of managing forces in a crash, along with electronic stability control and other crash avoidance features, have made the sheer weight of a vehicle less important,” Nolan says. “This suggests that reducing the weight of the heaviest vehicles for better fuel economy — for example, by switching from steel to aluminum — can improve safety for other road users without sacrificing occupant protection.”


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