We all get unsolicited advice on which car is the safest to buy. Some might say that heavier and bigger cars are the safest cars on the road, while others will tell you to avoid the lighter ones because they lead to a higher risk of fatalities and accidents.
So maybe what this means then is that the lighter, more fuel-efficient car gets forgotten in the mix, and that SUV gets a nod from your entire family because they’re huge and heavy.
But are these truths or fallacies? In most cases, they are true — but you’re not entirely seeing the entire picture here, either.
Truth is, there’s more to safety than size and weight. And there’s certainly more to safety than guaranteeing you’d come home in one piece. Many safety analysts tend to overemphasize the safety risks that drivers of a particular car model will get, when it’s also important to consider how their cars will affect the safety of other drivers around them.
Combining these two kinds of risks make evaluating a car’s overall danger on the road more comprehensive and accurate. When these two risks are combined, SUVs are actually no safer than subcompact or compact sedans — or any other car*. What’s more, those who drive pickup trucks actually stand a much greater risk compared to SUV drivers. In fact, combining both risks show that SUVs and pickup trucks pose a much greater danger compared to most cars on the road. Perhaps our concept of the safest cars may not be accurate.
Here is a chart to help you understand the safety risk of drivers and other drivers using different vehicle types on the road:
Keep in mind that the chart above is just an overview. Not all cars are the same, just as not all drivers are the same. And there are just as many factors that affect a car’s safety risk. They include:
Just like everything else, vehicles are also affected by the laws of physics. So when two mismatched cars collide with each other, the lighter vehicle takes the heavier impact between the two.