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Vehicle type matters more than crash ratings, study suggests

A study recently presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine suggests that crash ratings - which are meant to measure a vehicle's crashworthiness so automobile shoppers can make wise, safe purchasing decisions - are not always the best indicator of how well a car and its passengers will fare in the event of an accident.

The study found that a vehicle's size and type will typically be a better predictor of its performance in a head-on collision. Specifically, cars that are involved with larger, heavier sport utility vehicles tend to sustain more damage. That can mean a significantly higher risk of serious injury or death for their occupants.

In the study, those operating cars were four times more likely to die in a head-on crash if the vehicle they collided with was an SUV – even if the car had a better crash rating than the SUV.

However, crash ratings are not completely moot. When the SUV had a higher crash rating than the car, the risk to car drivers increased sharply. Drivers in passenger cars were 10 times more likely to die if the SUV was higher rated.

Even when the vehicles are similar weights, drivers of SUVs tend to fare better in crashes. The height of their bumpers means that SUVs sometimes roll over smaller cars in a collision, which can seriously injure the driver of the car.

If you have been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney to learn about your options.

Source: Claims Journal, “Passenger Car Drivers More Likely to Die in Crashes With SUVs Regardless of Safety Ratings,” Denise Johnson, May 15, 2013

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