Study Shows SUVs Are Not Safer for Kids

If you have children, you are always on the alert for products that will keep them healthy or safe.  Keeping this in mind, ad agencies for the top automobile makers design their commercials to tout just how safe your children will be on the road while riding in their clients’ cars.  The safety factor has usually been a great gimmick, especially when it came to the SUV.  Well, not any more.

A new study from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia states that children riding in SUVs have the same injury risks as children riding in passenger cars.  The study was published in the January 2006 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The researchers concluded that an SUV has a greater chance of rolling over during a crash and that this liability outweighed the safety benefits derived from riding in a larger, heavier-weight vehicle.  The doctors who conducted the study justified the necessity for their research because of the growing popularity of SUVs and their increased use as family vehicles.  They added that due to the large size of SUVs, many parents perceived them as safer family vehicles, even though not much is known about child safety in SUVs compared to passenger cars.  The objective of the study was to compare the potential risk of injury to children involved in SUV crashes with children involved in crashes in passenger cars.

This study, which is part of a continuing collaboration between Children’s Hospital and State Farm Insurance Companies, examined State Farm’s crash records involving 3,933 children between the ages of 0 and 15 years, who were riding in either 1998 or newer SUVs or passenger cars.  They found that rollover was a major factor in the risk of injury in both types of vehicles.  They also discovered that rollover occurred twice as frequently in SUVs as in the passenger cars.  Children who experienced rollover crashes were three times more likely to be injured than children who were not involved in a rollover.

The research went on to note that children who were not properly strapped into a car seat, booster seat or wearing a seatbelt during an SUV rollover had 25 times greater risk for injury than children who were appropriately restrained.  Almost 41 percent of all the children who were not appropriately restrained suffered a serious injury.  By comparison, only three percent of appropriately restrained children in SUVs were injured, and less than two percent of appropriately restrained children in passenger cars were hurt.

In a study conducted in 2005, Children’s Hospital discovered that State Farm crashes involving children riding in SUVs increased from 15 percent in 1999 to 26 percent in 2004.  The percentage of crashes involving children riding in passenger cars decreased from 54 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2004.

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