apparently "SUV Ownership" is a self-correcting problem

Highway Deaths Hit 13-Year High:
The number of U.S. traffic deaths rose nearly 1 percent in 2003 and reached a 13-year high at 43,220, the government reported on Wednesday. It was the fifth straight year road deaths rose, although passenger car fatalities decreased. Sport utility vehicle deaths went up roughly 10 percent over 2002, with more than half of the victims in those crashes killed in rollovers. Motorcycle deaths also jumped.
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30 Responses:

  1. coldacid says:

    If only it would correct itself faster and with less 'collateral damage'.

    • bdu says:

      Yeah, the problem with the "self-correction" is that a very large percentage of those killed by SUVs aren't IN THE SUVS.

      In this sense, it could become a self-perpetuating problem.

  2. g_na says:

    I've seen two great license plates in SF:

    (on a VW Jetta or similar) SO UNSUV, and 1 LESSUV

  3. beerfrick says:

    I still don't get why people still resist using the seatbelt in this day and age. It's been known for decades that skull + windshield + high speed = frappe...

  4. ammonoid says:

    For instance, his agency is proposing a standard to improve the strength of vehicle roofs to reduce rollover deaths.

    This amazes me. The roof can't take the weight of the vehicle in a rollover?

    • coldacid says:

      No more than a (American) beercan can withstand a forehead at high velocities.

    • bitwise says:

      Generally, no. In a light rollover it might hold up, but that's pretty much luck. If it flops over hard you'll get serious deformation-- if you've ever seen those rollover contests on cable TV you'll see what I'm talking about.

      This is the kind of thread that Volvo and Saab owners see and give a hearty laugh; supposedly those cars have essentially a roll cage built into the frame...

    • wfaulk says:

      It's been explained to me that because the engine sits so low in an SUV compared to its height that the center of gravity is greatly lowered. In a regular sedan, the center of gravity is at about the center of the car, so when it rolls over, the car wants to just spin about a center axis, rolling as well as it can. But when an SUV rolls over, the axis it spins about is much lower, which means that when it gets upside down, the top of the SUV rams into the road with great force instead of just rolling on it. I suppose you know what's just inside the top of the SUV.

      I know I've done a poor job explaining it, but hopefully you can figure out what I mean.

  5. suppafly says:

    I assume the motorcycle deaths are increasing because SUV's do more damage than cars when they turn left infront of motorcycles?

  6. harryh says:

    U.S. traffic deaths rose nearly 1 percent in 2003

    Strangely enough, this conforms almost exactly to population growth during the same time period. Shocking!

    • jwz says:

      The article does say "Despite the increase in the annual death count, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled remained constant at 1.5 deaths because more people were on the road."

      But it's still notable that 10% of those deaths shifted from cars to SUVs, and half of those are rollovers.

      • baconmonkey says:

        "But SUV sales rose more than 10 percent last year."

        so it actually seems like absolutely nothing has changed.
        or rather that SUVs took on a slightly higher percentage of death per SUV on the road, since I'm guessing that

        plus it said more than half of passenger car deaths were not wearing seat belts, while more than 2/3 of SUV deaths were not searing seat belts. so presumably SUV drivers are more careless that car drivers.

        actual stats here:

        NHTSA earlier estimated that highway crashes cost society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person

        wow, if people stopped dying in cars, we could use that money to wage at least an entire additional war.

        cars: 19638
        SUVs: 4451

        cars: 131,072,466
        SUVs: 27,071,042

        death/owership ratio
        cars: 19638 / 131,072,466 = 0.000149825517
        SUVs: 4451 / 27,071,042 = 0.000164419234

        so SUVs are are more dangerous to drive. If I did my math right, SUVs are 9.7% more dangerous than cars.

        • down8 says:

          plus it said more than half of passenger car deaths were not wearing seat belts, while more than 2/3 of SUV deaths were not searing seat belts. so presumably SUV drivers are more careless that car drivers.

          I know I'll take flack, but... where's the data on the female/male ratio of these SUV accidents and seatbelt statistics? I got $100 that says it's a small bit of proof that women are in fact worse drivers, and that fact is amplified when they are in a larger vehicle.

          In my own reserach, whenever I see a large truck/SUV doing something stupid, 9 times out of 10, it's a woman driver. This is an experiement you can do at home!


          • Ha. What the real stat is is that generally women tend get into decision type accidents (i.e. turning at the wrong time), whereas tend men get into speeding accidents because they drive too fucking fast. So men tend to kill themselves when they hit a wall, whereas women are more likely to involve other people in the incident. But when men do hit somebody, they're much more likely to kill them.

            • down8 says:

              I'd broadly agree with that.

              But I'd rather know that my hatred is justified due to someone's irresponsibility than just their stupidity... so I don't feel as bad when I beat the shit out of them for smashing into me (assuming I'm alive).


              • ah yes. i've taken to spitting on the cars of those who choose to park across bike lines, or nudge out without looking for cyclists, etc. i wish it was more feasible for people who don't signal till the last second and the like.

          • baconmonkey says:

            right, and it's all part of the estrogen conspiricy that causes insurance companies, who very carefully track accident statistics, to charge women drivers lower premiums than men.

        • baconmonkey says:

          holy crap, I dug up the rollover stats.

          Rollover Injuries ratio
          cars: 99,000 / 131,072,466 = 0.000755307373
          SUVs: 65,000 / 27,071,042 = 0.0024010897

          SUVs are 3.17 times more likely to roll than cars.

          rollover death ratio:
          cars: 4,554 / 131,072,466 = 0.0000347441392
          SUVs: 2,701 / 27,071,042 = 0.0000997745118
          though here, SUV rollover deaths are only 2.87 times more likely.

          61% of SUv deaths were from rolls, compared to 23% for cars.

          the real fun comes from the Light-truck Vs. Car collisions

          car deaths: 4,451
          light truck deaths: 1096

          meaning light-trucks kill 4.06 car drivers for every 1 light-truck driver that cars kill.

          • wilecoyote says:

            SUVs are 3.17 times more likely to roll than cars.

            Well, duh.
            Has anyone posted in this journal already the Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker about SUV's (lack of) safety?

          • Wow, I didn't realize the numbers were soo low in either case. For all I hear about it I thought that SUVs flipped over 40% of time time you pull out of the driveway...

            I'll take those odds any day of the week.

            • mattallen says:

              How about every day of the week?

              The probability will add up eventually to something less insignificant.

              • I don't think you understand the probability event in question. Yes the risk of rolling over in an SUV at some point goes up the more you drive the the stats we're looking at are for people who own SUVs. The probability of rolling over and then dieing for a single trip in an SUV are ludicrously low. And yes, I would take those odds.

  7. wasteddream says:

    What i'd really like to see is some research into whether that increase in motorcycle deaths is related to the increase in SUVs on the road.

  8. xenithtoast says:

    Funny how this coincides with the release of the H2......coincidence? You tell me. :)

  9. yamix000 says:

    Yeah SUVs are one of most pointless and dangerous vehicles to drive on the road today......I'm doing a persuasive speech on how they are a horrible choice of vehicle to drive because of saftey issues and how they are really bad for th environment because of horrible mileage.....I hate SUVs...trucks aren't much better, but only becuz half the people that have them don't need them and just wast fuel.