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Report Says Owners, Drivers Mistaken in Thinking SUVs Safer Than Smaller Vehicles

August 30, 2002

Reuters reported Aug. 30 that researchers at the University of Michigan and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that SUVs could be the most dangerous cars on the road for all drivers. The risk analysis also concluded that many SUV owners travel at increased speeds, under the mistaken impression that their vehicles make them safer than motorists driving smaller cars."Our main results are that sport utility vehicles are not necessarily safer for their drivers than cars," the report said, according to Reuters. "On average they are as risky as the average mid-size or large car, and no safer than many of the most popular compact and subcompact models."Reuters said the study, which the Berkeley laboratory publicised this week, comes as more and more SUVs fill US roads, and adds to the debate over whether making vehicles smaller and more fuel-efficient puts drivers at higher risk.Reuters said the analysis was recently presented to lawmakers in Washington and compared the risk of death in traffic accidents based on vehicle types and models sold between 1995-1999 using data on traffic deaths published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."We focused on the risk not only to occupants of the vehicle model in question in all types of crashes, but also on the risk to the drivers of other vehicles involved in crashes with the model in question," Tom Wenzel, a researcher at the Berkeley laboratory who co-wrote the report, told Reuters.“Some of the higher risk in SUVs relative to cars is due to the tendency of SUVs to rollover and the danger to these types of crashes to unbelted drivers,” the report said, according to Reuters.
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