Tuesday’s Post 11/22/11 A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has reported reduced chances of fatal injuries and deaths for drivers of recently manufactured pickups and SUVs, compared to those made more than ten years ago. IIHS is a nonprofit organization that researches possible ways of minimizing vehicular injuries, deaths and property damage also resulting in lower auto insurance costs. This research is financed by all the major auto insurance companies. IIHS says that although pickups still pose a greater risk compared to other vehicles in their weight range, this risk has significantly declined over the last decade. It also reveals that SUVs are now less likely to experience fatal accidents compared to other vehicles of a similar weight. The chief administrative officer of IIHS, said improvements to SUVs have made the vehicles safer for both their drivers and other road users. The survey found that the new design improvements in pickups and SUVs, coupled with improved car protection measures, cut their chances of overriding smaller vehicles during a crash.
According to the research, minivans and cars that weighed between 3,000 and 3,500 lbs. and had been manufactured not more than four years earlier registered 6 deaths per million people in 2008– 09, compared to 2000–01 when the death rate per million was 44. This was nearly a two-thirds decline in the number of deaths. Minivans and cars of the same weight involved in accidents in 2008–09 registered a death rate of 17 people for every million.
IIHS attributes improved safety conditions to the joint efforts of automakers, researchers and federal safety officials. This research was commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after noting a rapid increase in the number of pickups and SUVs on the road. The study was meant to find ways of reducing damages caused by road accidents involving different models of vehicles. The research recommended a number of improvements that included better designs for pickups and SUVs that would align their front areas to match those of cars, hence allowing them to better control energy during a crash while directing it away from occupant compartments. According to the researchers, in both of the periods, death toll proportionately increased with vehicle weights and this will always find the outcomes of crashes. Nolan says SUVs and pickups caused more deaths of car and minivan passengers in 2000–01 than other vehicles of similar weight. The report also indicated a decline in death rates for minivan and car occupants between the two periods of study. Among the reasons attributed to this decline include reduced frequency of travel as a result of increased gas costs, economic depression, better occupant protection and increased use of electronic stability control (ESC) systems.
Federal Safety had directed automakers to incorporate design changes by September 2009. IIHS reported that many vehicle manufacturers had compiled with this directive before the September deadline, and this could have contributed to the reduction in fatal accidents in 2008–09.
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