The number of fatalities caused when passenger cars and SUVs collide has declined by almost two-thirds in recent years.
With more sport-utility vehicles on the road than ever, that’s a significant shift since many safety experts began tarring popular products like the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner as highway menaces a decade ago. A new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety credits improved designs in both passenger cars and sport-utes for the dramatic drop in fatalities.
A decade ago, reports IIHS, collisions between cars and an SUV weighing in between 3,000 and 3,499 pounds resulted in 44 deaths per million registered vehicles. Between 2008 and 2009, however, the fatality rate had plunged to just 16 per million vehicles.
Even for crashes involving the heftiest of SUVs, those weighing in at 5,000 pounds or more, death rates have fallen by nearly half, according to the study.
“New designs have made a big difference on the road,” said the report’s co-author and IIHS chief administrator Joe Nolan.