18th Jan 2007, 23:53

Why don't you stop relying on some fancy mechanism to save your life and learn how to drive better? Jesus. All the gadgets in the world aren't going to make a difference if you're an incompetent driver. Granted there are times when accidents are unavoidable, but maybe if people stopped picking their noses, eating cheeseburgers and talking on cell phones while they drove we wouldn't have to worry so much whether SUVs or cars are safer. SUVs are a complete waste of metal anyway. I don't see the rough terrain these vehicles need to cross when more times than not it's a mother of three making her way to the food store.

19th Jan 2007, 10:06

Agreed, driving is all up to you, the individual. If you drive responsibly and defensively, you can drive any vehicle safely your whole life. If you are determined to drive like the roads are your own Grand Prix and everybody else is just in the way, assuming that airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control will compensate for your lack of skill and attention, you are a hazard to everyone on the road regardless of whether you drive a Chevy Suburban, Honda Civic, or BMW 330i.

19th Jan 2007, 11:06


I normally resist joining in on these discussions, but for once I think I have some helpful comments to add.

Firstly, small things are inherently stronger than large things. Think about trying to bend a short piece of wood vs a long piece of wood.

Modern small cars are very strong. This isn't their problem at all. The issue is that they lack large crumple zones and mass. So if they hit something at speed, they tend to stay in one piece, but the passengers undergo massive acceleration, which can be lethal without leaving a mark on their bodies. Being hit by a large SUV is going to be bad, just because of the mass of the SUV.

See this video for a demonstration of what I mean:


SUVs are not perfect either. They tend to be strong in the wrong places compared to cars. Many of them also lack good crumple zones. Their handling and stability usually doesn't compare well to cars. There's also the issue of the risk they pose to smaller vehicles.

So in collision with a smaller car, they'll come off best. But I'd hate to be involved in a high speed roll over incident in an SUV.

Most of the evidence I've seen suggests that the safest vehicles are actually mid to large family cars and minivans (MPVs). They tend to handle better than SUVS, have large crumple zones, aren't compromised for offroad use, and have enough mass to hold their own in a collision with a larger vehicle.

Below is a very interesting video of a crash between an SUV and a minivan.


There's a very interesting article at the link below, and a chart that plots the safety of (admittedly older) vehicles for both the occupants of that vehicle, and another vehicle they collided with. It makes for very interesting reading.


The other big issue is to buy as new a vehicle as possible, as vehicle safety is still improving significantly year on year.

19th Jan 2007, 11:27

Sorry, but this is simply not true. Small cars have crumple zones and safety cells and have for years. In fact, in some cars (Volvo, etc.) the engine itself acts as a crumple zone. The impact is dispersed throughout the body and REMOVED from the passenger compartment. This is augmented by airbags, breakaway steering wheels, and the rest.

Read the BusinessWeek report, September 9, 2002 (now FIVE years ago) entitled "Gas-guzzlers are safer? Pure Bunk".

Here is just one quote:

"Drivers of Ford Explorers are 61% more likely to die thank drivers of 1,000 lb lighter Camrys - real driving risks have little to do with weight". That quote was from researchers at the U of Michigan and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories.

Now only in a HEAD ON crash would the SUV win, but such crashes are few and far between, the majority being left front side to left front side (in America - reverse for cars in England, Japan, etc).

The article also cites statistics that point out a Honda Civic (model years 95 - 99) had 73 driver deaths in an accident per million vehicles as opposed to the much larger Dodge Ram Quad CAD SLT which had 85 driver deaths per million vehicles. Yet the Dodge Ram caused 136 deaths per milion vehicles in the vehicles they collided with (which could be SUVs, trucks, cars) vs. the Honda Civic's 23 driver deaths per million vehicle.

Also keep in mind that a 1999 Civic is LESS safe than the new ones with eight airbags and such.

But, as usual, the pro-SUV people will ignore these realities and go on believing their deathtraps are safe.

19th Jan 2007, 11:59

100% incorrect. You can't control a vehicle that is inherently unsafe and unstable and you cannot control what other drivers are going to do.

This is all borne out by the inverse proportion of highway deaths vs. safety features added. Only when SUVs became popular did highway deaths go up.

Just recently the prince and princess of Tonga were killed near here in their Ford Explorer when it was sideswiped by a Mustang and the Explorer flipped several times. They WERE wearing seatbelts.

If they had not been in an SUV they would have lived.

19th Jan 2007, 12:38


I could have put my argument about small cars better.

When I said that small cars "lack large crumple zones", I didn't mean to imply that they don't have any crumple zones or modern safety features. My only point was that larger crumple zones (as found in a larger family car), allow the deceleration to be carried out over a longer distance, reducing its intensity.

In crashes with high speeds and larger vehicles, the accelerations involved are enormous, and a larger crumple zone is desirable.

I didn't claim the SUVs are safer in general. My point was that small cars and SUVs tend to both be vulnerable, but to different types of accidents. Larger family cars and minivans appear to less vulnerable than either small cars or SUVs.

I totally agree about newer vehicles being far more safe.

As well as extra airbags etc, newer vehicles often have an electronic stability program (ESP), which is supposed to make losing control of a vehicle during violent maneuvers much more difficult.

19th Jan 2007, 13:08

You don't seem to understand statistics as well as you think you do. You would suggest that the second you turn the key in an SUV, you may as well put a gun to your own head and pull the trigger. Rubbish! Your so-called argument that you can't control what other people will do applies equally well to any vehicle, or life in general for that matter. In the end, ALL vehicles are inherently unsafe at some level because controlling several thousand pounds of machinery at 60 mph introduces magnitudes of risk beyond simply walking down the sidewalk, or remaining on the couch without ever going outside your home. In the past 20 years, I have had every variety of daily driver from 20-year-old wrecks (with no power steering, power brakes, or even shoulder belts), to large SUV's, to '70s-era muscle cars, to a current 2002 Ford Explorer. Any guesses as to how many rollovers, crashes, injuries, other people I've killed, or how many times I have been killed in any of those vehicles? That's right---ZERO. Not so much as a scratched fender, a trip into the ditch, or even a spilled drink from these "inherently unsafe, rollover-prone death traps" as you love to continually refer to them. So obviously there is a large flaw in your over-reliance on quoting statistics to support your claims. Can you figure out what it is? If not, it would appear that you're just some guy who likes to rant about SUVs on a website because he has nothing better to do at the insurance office where he works.