Given incidents like the Thomas crash and the controversy surrounding the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire rollover scandal of 2000 to 2002, SUVs have acquired a somewhat undeserved reputation as unsafe vehicles. Yes, SUVs do roll over more often than cars, but statistically speaking, SUVs are still among the safest vehicles on the road.
According to the to the chart below, compiled from statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large and midsize SUVs are among the safest vehicles on the road.
Still, as the Thomas crash indicates, that's no reason to dismiss safety. While you may be safer in an SUV, your vehicle's size and weight make your vehicle more hazardous to anyone you might hit. Plus, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people die each year in rollover-related highway incidents, most of which occur in SUVs. Any SUV can become unsafe if not driven properly.
As a consumer, there are several features you can look for when buying an SUV to make the safest choice for you and others on the road. And, as a driver, there are many rules you can follow to make your commute as safe as possible.
In the next section, we'll look at what safety features you should keep in mind when buying an SUV.