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Why do so many parents drive SUVs (and what does it matter)?

You would not drive a tank to drop the kids at school or pick up groceries. Yet many people are happily driving vehicles that are almost as large and much faster.

SUVs now dominate new car sales. Manufacturers promote them as safe cars to drive. The question is, who are they safe for?

Think about tanks. They are designed to protect their occupants. The same applies to SUVs. Anyone driving one knows they and their family inside have an improved chance of surviving a crash. It is a different story, however, for anyone outside the vehicle.

SUVs are more likely to kill pedestrians and cyclists than normal size cars

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that at 20 – 39 mph:

  • Anyone on foot hit by a standard size car has a 77% chance of survival
  • Anyone on foot hit by an SUV has a 70% chance of survival

When the car is traveling above 40 mph, the survival rates drop to:

  • 0% for those hit by an SUV
  • 46% if hit by a standard car

The ideal scenario would be to wean people off these oversized vehicles, yet there is nothing to suggest people or manufacturers are willing to go that route. Manufacturers make bigger profits on bigger cars, so they are unlikely to do a U-turn in marketing SUVs as the safety-conscious choice.

One plan is for the government to step in and force manufacturers to design their cars to be less damaging to pedestrians and cyclists. Another is to change the safety rating system, so it makes clear how safe a model is for pedestrians as well as occupants. Currently, the system only accounts for occupant safety.

If an SUV hits you and you are fortunate enough to live, you will need legal help to hold the driver responsible. You will likely have massive medical bills, which could have been much less if the driver had made a more considerate purchase.

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