ESP Makes SUVs Safer Than Ever, IIHS Says
In the past, many top-heavy SUVs frequently rolled over, "giving many models some of the highest driver death rates." But SUVs are safer than ever, it contends, because of the widespread availability of ESP, which helps to prevent such incidents. "In the new analysis, the death rate for SUVs is half that of cars," the report explains.
The death rate for SUV drivers dropped 66 percent, from 82 per million vehicles in 1999-2002 models to 28 per million for 2005-2008 models. However, the death rate for drivers of small sedans was 72 million vehicles for 2005-2008 models, down just 35 percent from 110 per million in 1999-2002 models. "The high death rate of the 2007 Malibu/2008 Malibu Classic could be connected to the fact that many were sold as fleet vehicles, which may be driven differently from private vehicles," the report said.
"The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that's no longer the case, thanks to ESC," said Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research, in a statement.
"For one thing, people don't behave the same when they're behind the wheel of a sports car as when they're driving a minivan. And some people are more susceptible to injury and death for reasons that can't be completely adjusted for," said the report in an explanation of adjusted driver death rates.