As top automotive and government officials gather in Washington Feb. 26 to discuss the safety of sport utility vehicles, an industry trade group is defending the popular trucks. During a news conference Feb. 25, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers argued that sport utility vehicles are just as safe as, and in some cases safer than, passenger cars, according to the Detroit Free Press. The group said the industry nonetheless is willing to tackle some safety concerns -- such as high rollover rates and the damage SUVs cause in collisions with passenger cars -- but can do so more quickly without government mandates, the Free Press said. The Alliance contends that SUVs, while more prone to fatal rollovers, perform better than cars in side, rear and frontal crashes, which make up 97 percent of all crashes. The rollover death rate for SUVs is also dropping faster than that of passenger cars due to improved technology on sport utilities, such as antilock brakes and traction control, the Alliance said. Since 1995, the SUV rollover fatality rate has dropped 13 percent, while the rollover fatality rate in passenger cars has declined 7 percent, according to the Free Press.