Safety Gap Grows Wider Between S.U.V.’s and Cars

excerpted from 17 August 2004 | New York Times


DETROIT, Aug. 16 – The gap in safety between sport utility vehicles and passenger cars last year was the widest yet recorded, according to new federal traffic data.

People driving or riding in a sport utility vehicle in 2003 were nearly 11 percent more likely to die in an accident than people in cars, the figures show. The government began keeping detailed statistics on the safety of vehicle categories in 1994.

S.U.V.’s continue to gain in popularity, despite safety concerns and the vehicles’ lagging fuel economy at a time when gasoline prices are high…. Industry groups have insisted for years that S.U.V.’s are at least as safe as passenger cars, if not safer. One group run by industry lobbyists, called the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America, says on its Web site that it is a myth that S.U.V.’s guzzle gas or that their higher rollover rate makes them more dangerous for their occupants…. But the main reason for the safety gap in S.U.V. and car fatalities, according to federal regulators, is that S.U.V.’s are more likely to roll over …

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