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Study: SUVs no safer for kids

Hospital says larger size of vehicle is offset by its increased chance of rollover.

January 3, 2006; Posted: 3:32 p.m. EST (2032 GMT)


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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - New research indicates that, as far as children are concerned, SUVs' benefits of size are offset by their increased risk of rolling over, making them no safer than ordinary passenger cars.

According to a study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies, rollover crashes occurred twice as frequently in SUVs as in passenger cars and children were three times more likely to be injured in a rollover crash than in a non-rollover accident, according to a statement from the hospital.

"SUVs are becoming more popular as family vehicles because they can accommodate multiple child safety seats and their larger size may lead parents to believe SUVs are safer than passenger cars," Dennis Durbin, a physician at the hospital and co-author of the study, said in the statement. "However, people who use an SUV as their family vehicle should know that SUV's do not provide superior protection for child occupants."

The study also found that children who were not properly restrained in an SUV were 25 times more likely to suffer a serious injury in a rollover crash than those in a car seat or safety belt, according to the statement. Nearly half of all children who were not properly restrained in a SUV rollover were seriously hurt.

The study looked at crashes reported to State Farm involving 3,933 child occupants between the ages of 0 and 15 years who were in either SUVs or passenger cars that were model year 1998 or newer.

Previous research from the hospital has shown that heavier vehicles are generally safer than lighter vehicles within their own class. That is, a big car is safer than a small car and a large SUV is safer than a smaller one.


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