Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles
September 26 2002 - Despite Safety Concerns SUV’s Still Popular
Reports show sports utility vehicles have safety hazards, yet Americans continue to make these gas-guzzlers the most popular car on the road. “There will be an estimated 70,000 SUV rollovers in 2002, in which an estimated 2000 people will die,” PBS’ Frontline News reported. However, “One out four new vehicles sold in the U.S. is an SUV.” So, why are Americans, so enthralled with their so-called “utility vehicles?”
The past decade’s interest in the user-friendly utility vehicles started with the popularity of the Explorer in 1991, Edmunds Car Researchers reported. Consumers loved the idea that a car proved equally useful both on-road and off according to the report. Today the SUV has become a popular teen car, American family vehicle and a sporty off-road avenger.
Consumer Reports said there are some who buy them for their size, some for their extra cargo space, and then there are those who shell out the extra dough for a Cadillac Escalade because they like the chrome trim and to intimidate other motorists. But not all SUV buyers are trying to appear cool, consumers often choose the SUV for its perceived safety benefits, size and protection. Being higher off the ground gives SUV’s a greater advantage in traffic accidents, this reasoning often attributed to the idea that the bigger a vehicle, the better protected its occupants.
But are these bigger cars really safe? Along with the SUV’s popularity, come some dangers of car rollovers because of their height and wheel base size, according to Frontline. The Frontline report said single-vehicle rollovers cause more fatalities than any other kind of motor-vehicle accidents - one-quarter of all deaths yearly. “In 1999, 63 percent of all SUV deaths were in rollovers. The highest rollover involvement in any vehicle,” PBS’ Keith Bradsher said. Todd Bassett, sales consultant for Brent Brown Chevrolet-Buick said most buyers are unaware of these tragic statistics. When looking to buy an SUV, most assume their safety features such as all-wheel drive, terrain tires and sturdy frames will protect them from harm. “There’s huge popularity towards SUV’s because of the weather in Utah,” Bassett said. “They assume when they are paying that much money, they are getting a safe car. Its more of a peace of mind logic for buyers than anything.”
Findings from a study done by Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers show that 25 percent of SUV owners “feel very safe in an SUV.” Additionally, more than 79 percent of SUV owners reported using their SUV’s in harsh weather for greater vehicle control.
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