Drive that sports utility vehicle and improve road safety
So-called safety and consumer advocates have long preached that sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks are roadway menaces. Pity the fate of the driver of a lighter-weight, conventional vehicle unfortunate enough to tangle with one. During the years covered by the study, registrations of light trucks and SUVs increased by 5 percent but single-vehicle fatalities per driver decreased 7.5 percent and multiple-vehicle fatalities per driver dipped by 2 percent.
But two professors of economics at Rutgers University in the U.S.A. recently published a detailed study of light-truck and SUV accidents from 1994 to 1997. Douglas Coate and James Vander-Hoff found that the larger, heavier vehicles are safer for occupants in single-car crashes and multi-car accidents.
The overall point they make is simple, but often overlooked. While a collision between two light cars might kill everyone in both vehicles, passengers riding in a truck involved in a car-truck crash are more likely to survive thus, a net saving in lives.
Overall, the U.S. has experienced a 50 percent decline in traffic fatalities per vehicle over the past two decades, just when light-truck registrations were doubling.
The authors of the study statistically controlled for other factors which were improving highway safety over the period.
They concluded that the "increased safety to occupants of light trucks outweighs potential increases in fatalities to occupants of other vehicles."
Source: Brock Yates (Car and Driver magazine), SUVs Mean Safer Roads, Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2001.
For text (WSJ subscribers)
For more on Vehicle Safety http://www.ncpa.org/pd/regulat/reg-2.html
Publish date: 18 April 2001
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.