Many believe that driving a bigger car is naturally safer, and thus millions of parents each year run out to get a big, safe SUV for their teenage drivers. This can make some sense, as bigger cars have more mass, which should be an advantage in a head-on collision. But that may not always be the case.
Most people focus on head-on crash statistics when analyzing crash data, showing the results of two cars colliding head-on into each other. This makes sense, as these types of crashes account for about half of all vehicle deaths in the U.S. according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. SUVs with their extra mass should be safer, right? But a bigger car with more mass isn’t always beneficial. For example, an SUV’s higher center of gravity can cause a greater chance to roll over and cause even more damage in an accident.
The age of the car also plays a big role in its safety. Stability control has been mandatory on all new cars since 2012, which can prevent rollovers. Newer cars also have up-to-date safety features such as ABS, side curtain airbags, and stability control. They also perform better in crash avoidance tests in both wet and dry baking. While statistics for surviving crashes may give the edge to larger cars, crash avoidance stats definitely side with smaller, newer cars. So the next time you head out to a car dealership with safety in mind, don’t just buy the heaviest SUV you can find.