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Kinder, gentler SUVs kill fewer people

Design changes in SUVs have radically reduced the death rate among occupants of the other vehicle when there's a crash.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 29, 2011 12:46PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site


SUVs aren't killing nearly as many people as they once did.


In data released Wednesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said changes to the design of high-riding pickups and sport-utilities, combined with improvements such as side airbags in cars, had lowered the death rate in the vehicles they struck, by nearly two-thirds in some cases.


That's a big change from the beginning of the decade -- the peak of the sport-utility craze -- when insurers such as Farmers and State Farm raised rates for drivers of SUVs, citing the outsized damage that the vehicles caused. In 2000-01, occupants in cars and minivans hit by sport-utilities died twice as often as those hit by other cars and minivans.


Today, the IIHS says, as the occupant of a midsize car or van, you're as safe being hit by an SUV as you are by another car. Slightly safer, in fact.


The IIHS notes that physics haven't changed: That is, a light car hit by a heavy SUV still won't fare very well. But for vehicles in the same weight classes, it's a fair fight. Post continues after video.

Warp speed

In regulatory terms, automakers and safety officials addressed the mismatch between cars and trucks at warp speed. After meetings in 2003 to discuss design changes to better align the impact-absorbing structures of light trucks with the cars they hit, improvement came quickly. Among 2004 models, 54% of SUVs and pickups met the new front-end requirements, the IIHS said, and among 2007 models, 81% did.


"By working together, the automakers got life-saving changes done quickly," says Joe Nolan, co-author of the new study. "The new designs have made a big difference on the road."


That's reflected in insurance rates, where reduced liability risk has made small sport-utilities such as the Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson among the cheapest vehicles of any kind to insure.


More on and MSN Money:

Sep 29, 2011 2:43PM
I had a long talk with my SUV and it agreed to stop killing people.
Sep 29, 2011 3:47PM
SUVs don't kill people.  Drivers kill people.
Sep 29, 2011 3:55PM
Who wrote this article???
It draws a picture of gangs of SUVs, stalking in the shadows, looking for their next victim. I often wonder what my Wrangler does while I sleep. It is blue, I hope it's not involved with those Crip fellows..........

Sep 29, 2011 3:28PM
SUVs don't kill people. People kill people. 
People who drive really poorly without any defensive skills or awareness of those around them; people who drive distracted; and especially people who don't know the handling capabilities of their giant gas guzzling vehicles. (Congrats on writing one of the dumbest headlines ever.)
Sep 29, 2011 3:58PM
Wow, this goes right up there with guns kill people. It's the idiot behund the wheel driving who kills, not the SUV. Or, is the conspiricy real and the Transfomers and Decepticons are really our cars! I don't know who to trust! But I certainly don't believe for a minute the SUV killed anyone. We are being socially engineered and manipulated into thinking that way. Whose agenda is this?
Oct 3, 2011 5:39PM

SUV's don't kill people. Drivers of SUV's kill people.

Sep 29, 2011 4:01PM

I'm glad to hear that SUVs are starting to cut back on their murdering ways.  It was getting a little scary there for a minute.


Now, we just need to get the mini-vans on board and the roadways will be safe again!

Oct 3, 2011 11:42AM

SUV's im sure have become much more safe than the past as well as many other vehicles. I do believe though that the driver of vehicles cause the accident and the deaths of those involved. No matter how safe the vehicles become there will still be accidents.

Oct 3, 2011 11:14AM

Listen to yourselves...."Kinder, gentler SUVs kill fewer people" Killing fewer people.  Who comes up with these captions anyway?  Shouldn't it say some thing like "Kinder, gentler SUV's with better safety rating for the safe and sound rides the the drive wants".... 

How long have you, the writer been writing, anyway?  It is pitiful.....


Oct 3, 2011 8:56PM
All I know is I have had 2 accidents in my Gas Guzzling Road Hogging SUV (I might add neither accident was found to be my fault by police and insurance). I and my 3 year old have walked away from both accidents without a scratch. One clown turned left in front of me at an intersection, the force shoved my 6000 lb SUV 180 degrees. Thank god for Gas guzzling SUV's. Lets see someone walk away from that in a smart car or your save the planet mini hybrid. Drivers today are reckless, talking on phones, putting on their makeup or any of a multitude of activities which do not relate well with driving. Our lives have become so hectic in the new technologically advanced hurry up and wait society that we have become multitask lunatics.! So as long as the world is moving at warp speed, Im driving the biggest darn thing I can get my hands on.
Oct 3, 2011 5:49PM
Let's face the facts, there are bad drivers and good drivers period. It does not matter what size or type of vehicle you drive there are always going to be both types of drivers in them. What you really have to look at is what vehicle you feel that your family will be the safest in and let the rest of the world worry about their own families. We have all seen crazy drivers in both small and large vehicles.

I personally drive a large SUV because I have always felt that the bigger the vehicle the safer my family will be. I have to say I was happy to see the video confirm my belief. Our safety to me is far more important than anything else. Driving a large SUV has made me a more cautious driver  because I am aware of what could happen if I hit a smaller vehicle or a child that is not watching where they are going. 

The best point that I will take away from this article is that fewer people are dying, no matter who is at fault in the accident.

Stay safe and enjoy life!


Remember :According to the anointed one;Get rid of those gas guzzling SUV's and buy one of his recommended electric cars.

Oct 3, 2011 9:30PM
SUV don't kill people, people who won't or can't take responsibility for operating a vehicle do. Don't blame the machine..
Sep 29, 2011 3:44PM
Oct 3, 2011 3:28PM
Excuse me, but SUV's cannot kill anybody(unless they run over someone), but even then the driver did it not the SUV.  If they could, they would be in court and on trial!!
Sep 29, 2011 3:49PM
Could it be that people are driving less? Because they have to curtail their driving because of economic reasons? I understand the advances in safety technologies going into cars and the like. Less driving, fewer accidents, fewer fatalities. Sign of the times.

Saying a SUV kills people is like saying a Big Rig kills people. I hate to inform you weenies, but its the DRIVER of said Vehicle. There are Drivers and there are NFD's. My favorite saying is "Welcome to Florida, training grounds for NASCAR"

You so-called reporters need to do some research on what you write about. Especially if you are a car insurance site...



Oct 3, 2011 6:53PM
Not to worry, people will find other ways to kill themselves.
Oct 3, 2011 7:37AM
My suv has been hanging around with an old Buick lately. Not to happy about the situation but everyone says its just a stage and it will grow out of it.
Oct 3, 2011 10:56PM

I guess I'm lucky as I have only been attacked by a vehicle once.  Of course the unliscened 15 year old driver might have had someting to do with it.


The truth is simple Idiot drivers Kill other People but the vehicle always gets the blame.

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