Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SUVs and kids

Big SUVs have long come under fire as inefficient, gas-guzzling behemoths that waste energy and money as they pollute the air. But there was always the argument that they are safe – especially for a family with children. They look like tanks; they ought to protect like tanks. And what’s more important than keeping our kids safe?

Now researchers at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia report that, in accidents, children are no safer in a big SUV than in a regular car. Despite their size -- an average of 1,300 pounds more than a car -- SUVs are twice as likely as a car to roll over in an accident. And children in rollovers were three times more likely to be injured, the hospital said.

How dangerous are rollovers? The federal government says, of the nearly 11 million passenger car, SUV, pickup and van crashes in 2002, only 3% involved a rollover. Yet, rollovers accounted for 33% of the fatalities that year.

If you want to keep your family safe, look beyond outward appearances. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Web site, www.safecar.gov, has more on what’s safe and what’s not in many categories – and notes that, when it comes to accidents, SUVs are the most likely to roll over.

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