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Study says vehicle type trumps crash test ratings

Crash test ratings can be helpful. Don't ignore them when buying a new car. However, also pay attention to vehicle type. One study claims that this is a lot more important than the ratings.

Specifically, the study says you should buy an SUV.

Researchers looked at head-on crashes between SUVs and cars, and those in the smaller cars died more often no matter what the ratings said. If the car had a higher rating than the SUV, those in the car passed away four times as often. If the SUV had the better rating, then those in the cars died 10 times as often.

So, the crash test ratings did impact fatality rates. They helped more drivers survive. But the vehicle type mattered far more. All the ratings did was reduce the incredible rate at which passenger car drivers were being killed.

There are a few reasons, researchers said, first pointing to weight. In the "overwhelming majority" of cases, those in lighter and smaller cars were killed. Those in bigger, heavier SUVs survived.

The second major reason was bumper mismatch. If a car and an SUV weighed close to the same, those in the cars were still killed more often. The bumper on the SUV is typically higher, meaning the SUV slides on top of the car, with the bumper slamming directly into the passenger compartment. The car, meanwhile, hits the undercarriage and frame of the SUV.

Of course, no vehicle is perfectly safe, and this study only looked at head-on crashes. If you're injured or a loved one is killed in any type of crash, regardless of vehicle type, be sure you know if you have a right to seek financial compensation for funeral costs, medical costs, lost wages and more.

Source: Science Daily, "Passenger car drivers are more likely to die in crashes with SUVs, regardless of crash ratings," Ellen Goldbaum, accessed Aug. 25, 2017

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