Which is more dangerous: SUV’s or sports cars?

This study was a population cohort study of all licensed passenger vehicles in New Zealand in the years 2005–2006. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect on road safety of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) compared to other passenger vehicle types. Statistical models were fitted to the population of 2,996,000 vehicles of which 17,245 were involved in an injury crash. Controlling for distance driven, vehicle and owner characteristics, SUVs were found to be relatively safe vehicles in terms of injury crash involvement and in terms of the injury rate of their own occupants or other road users into which they crashed. Current research on SUV safety clearly shows them to be a road safety concern, but only once a collision occurs. The present study shows that SUVs in New Zealand have relatively few collisions compared to other passenger vehicle types, allowing for factors such as distance driven, some allowance for the type of driving exposure (via the owners’ addresses) and for owner age and gender. Overall, the vehicle type implicated most frequently in injury crashes and involving the highest rate of road injuries was sports cars, causing clearly the most harm per licensed vehicle. Instead of concerning themselves primarily with SUVs, the focus of road safety agencies should be on the relatively high crash risk of sports cars, which are clearly a road safety concern. Their high crash involvement rate and injury rate is likely to be largely due to the way they are driven rather than to inherent characteristics of the vehicles themselves.

Source: “Are SUVs dangerous vehicles?” from Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 40, Issue 3, May 2008, Pages 954-963

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