This change is “dramatic” according to the IIHS, which studied crash performance of 2005-2008 models from 2006 to 2009, crediting this new level of SUV safety to “widespread availability of electronic stability control (ESC).”
“The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that’s no longer the case, thanks to ESC,” Anne McCartt of the IIHS was quoted as saying in the press release. Indeed, in a report from 1999-2002, SUVs accounted for 82 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years, while in the latest study, that number dropped to only 28 per million.
The death rate from accidents from all types of vehicles dropped in the duration of the study, and again, the IIHS credited ESC, with minivans being the safest vehicle type at 25 driver deaths per million.
Another reason why minivans and SUVs do so well? Weight – cars of similar weight as SUVs had higher death rates according to the study.
Just in case you are wondering about sport cars, the IIHS had this to say:
“Death rates may have been held down for certain sports cars and convertibles because they often aren’t driven as much as other vehicles.”
You can read the full report here.