SUVs: How Dangerous Are They?

If you're driving an SUV, are you really at greater risk of dying in an accident? Here are numbers.

Published: 16-Jan-2003

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - If you were driving your sport utility vehicle to work today you might have heard on the radio that Dr. Jeffery Runge, the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has deemed your car "unsafe."

Your SUV's hefty weight and extra height might make it seem safer to you. In fact, SUVs have generally done well in the standard government crash-safety tests. Also, larger SUVs do have lower death rates per million registered vehicles than do smaller ones, so weight does seem to add to safety.

However, SUVs have a greater tendency to roll over in crashes, a tendency that may erase much of the benefit of the vehicles' added heft. Sport utility vehicles are designed to have high "ground clearance", the amount of space between the vehicle's underbody and the road. That gives them a greater tendency to tip over during sudden turns.

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