The medical journal Pediatrics has an article in its January edition that children are no safer riding in sport utility vehicles than in passenger cars, largely because the doubled risk of rollovers in SUVs cancels out the safety advantages of their greater size and weight.
Researchers said the findings dispel the bigger-equals-safer myth that has helped fuel the growing popularity of SUVs among families. SUV registrations climbed 250 percent in the U.S. between 1995 and 2002.
The study was sponsored by Partners for Child Passenger Safety, a research project of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the world’s largest insurer, State Farm Insurance Co. The researchers looked at accidents involving nearly 4,000 children under age 16 between 2000 and 2003, and found child injury rates of 1.7 percent in both cars and SUVs.
The study found that the extra weight of SUVs enhanced safety, reducing the risk of injury by more than a third. But that was offset by findings that SUVs were more than twice as likely as cars to roll over in crashes. Children in rollovers were three times more likely to be seriously injured than those in non-rollover accidents, according to the study.