Are SUVs or Sedans Safer?

When researching safety ratings, you need to make sure you are researching the best possible sources. In Australia, there are two respected sources that issue safety ratings on various car models. For new cars, you will want to research the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). For used cars, you will want to research Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR). Safety ratings are developed from crash tests performed by the government or insurance companies. These sources are great places to research the safety of your next SUV or Sedan.

In considering whether an SUV is safer than a sedan, there are more things to consider than crash-test results. The problem with crash test results is that they normally are performed by pitting the same sized vehicles against a similar-sized vehicle. You need to go beyond the sterile test because most accidents do not occur between like-sized vehicles. Just in case the accident does conform to safety tests of similar size, sedans outperform SUVs because of smaller size.

A complete safety analysis must take into consideration size of the vehicles (basic laws of physics) and type of accidents involved. Normally when a larger object hits a smaller object, it is the smaller of the two that will take the most damage. Thus, SUVs have an advantage in the physical area. The only caveat is when a SUV hits a SUV of the same size there can be much greater risk of injury because the impact of 2 large objects against one another will lead to greater damage.

Different types of accidents produce different results for SUVs and sedans. SUVs fair much better in front-end or head-on crashes than do sedans. If you are looking at rollovers, then sedans have the advantage in this area because of their lower centre of gravity.

Taking everything into consideration, the answer to the question of which vehicle, SUV or sedan, is safer squarely resides in favour of SUVs. Recent studies have shown that the driver and passengers in SUVs are 50% more likely to survive a crash without suffering as many injuries as individuals riding in a sedan. Going even further, if a sedan is in a front-end accident with a SUV, the driver of the sedan is nearly 8% more likely to be killed than the SUV driver. Even if the sedan has a better safety rating than the SUV, the driver of the sedan is still 4.5% more likely to perish in the crash than the SUV driver.

Just stating that SUVs are safer than sedans in all cases except rollover accidents does not mean that there are not plenty of safe sedans being sold today. There are plenty of really safe sedans to choose from in today’s market.

When making your choice of vehicle, consider all aspects: crash tests; safety ratings; the type of driving you will be doing; the bulk of traffic you drive in; and, yes, simple physics sometimes will make your decision for you. Bottom line is plenty of sedans are perfectly safe, but overall SUVs are your safer bet.

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