We know trucks can be safer than most cars, but the question of whether an SUV or a truck is safer is more complicated. If you’re making the decision to buy a car, crash safety is likely a factor in your search for the right one. For the larger options available, both Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and trucks have become common on the road, since each offers many unique benefits to workers and families alike. Some important safety features that drivers generally look at when car shopping include:
- front and side airbags
- antilock brakes
- child and car seat safety
- seatbelts; and
- traction control.
Comparing these elements of an SUV to a truck is a great way to narrow down your options, but when it comes to crash performance, some safety designs in manufacturing are better than others. Click here to see if an SUV is safer than a car or sedan in a crash.
Differences Between a Truck and an SUV
For the average car buyer, a truck’s exposed cargo bed offers extra hauling power, while the large, rounded body of an SUV provides more interior space and comfort. But which is safer in a crash? The answer involves several factors, but research overall has shown SUVs to be safer for drivers than trucks.
Comparing SUV and Truck Safety Features
A study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) examined data on fatal crashes and found a large decline in SUV driver deaths from 1989 to 2016, whereas pickup truck drivers were as much at risk of dying in a crash in 2013-2016 as they were in 1989-1992.
This improvement in SUV crash performance makes sense considering the investment manufacturers have made towards design improvements in SUVs compared to trucks. For instance, in 2003 automakers changed the design of SUVs to have lower front ends in order to meet the energy-absorbing bumpers of cars in a crash, making them far less deadly to drivers of the SUV and occupants of the car in front. Whereas before, the SUV would be projected into the air and into the back seat of the car in front, now the grill is lower, reducing the likelihood of the SUV being lifted into the air.
Manufacturers have also built more enhanced safety technology in SUVs than in trucks because they are typically marketed to families. Weight balance also plays a part in making SUVs safer than trucks in crashes, because of how it can impact driver handling.
How Weight Affects Safety
SUVs typically are considered more stable in motion because they are on average smaller than trucks and their weight is spread evenly throughout their body. In comparison, trucks carry more of their weight in the front than in the back.
This front-end weight imbalance makes handling more difficult for pickup truck drivers and puts them more at risk than SUV drivers for single-vehicle accidents such as spins and rollovers. The difference in overall weight between trucks and cars also makes them more dangerous to other drivers in the event of a crash: IIHS research has shown that lighter trucks (weighing between 3,500 and 4,000 pounds) are much less likely to kill car drivers in an accident. Makes sense considering that we usually say: ‘in the battle of the bulge, the big one usually wins.’ The heavier the vehicle, the greater energy behind the impact there will be. Thus a 6,000 lb SUV striking a 2,500 lb car will be more dangerous than a 3,500 small SUV crashing into a 2,500 lb vehicle. It’s like getting hit by a 160 lb linebacker versus a 240 lb linebacker when you weigh 140 lbs.
However, it is easy to assume that the heavier a vehicle is, the safer it will be in a crash. But bigger is not always better when it comes to finding a car that will fit your lifestyle and protect your loved ones. This is not always correct.
IIHS researchers also found that between 2013 and 2016, both SUV and truck passengers’ risk of death was not much different in models that had lower weights versus those with higher weights. This likely means that due to modern design improvements, a vehicle’s greater curb weight no longer brings the same level of protection for passengers in a crash as it perhaps did in earlier SUV and truck models.
Finding A Personal Injury Lawyer
The lawyers of Fernandez & Hernandez have years of experience helping victims of car crashes to get the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been hurt in an accident and need advice for filing a claim, you are not alone. Contact our office today — we are here to help.