Brock Sides notes a study on SUV safety reported in the WSJ:

While light trucks represent 36% of all registered vehicles, they are involved in about half of all two-vehicle crashes with passenger cars, highway safety regulators say. In such crashes, over 80% of those killed were in passenger cars.

This is interesting, although it would be useful to know more. For example, how many miles are driven in each vehicle type? By what kind of drivers? Under what kind of conditions?

Says Brock:

So if you bought that SUV for “safety,” just keep in mind that you bought that safety at the expense of the safety of others.

Without a link to the study, that’s hard to say. But it seems much more likely that it’s mainly a matter of higher survival rates in SUVs rather than creation of higher mortality rates in cars. What are the comparative mortality rates in passenger car on passenger car wrecks? SUV on SUV wrecks?

I’d hazard an educated guess and say that the percentage of motorcycle riders killed in two-vehicle crashes with passenger cars exceeds 80%. So, by Brock’s logic, people who ride around in Honda Camrys are safe at the expense of motorcycle riders.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Lemon says:

    Excellent analysis.

  2. Meezer says:

    I agree. I drive a GEO Metro. I’m going to get the short end of the stick in an accedent with any other vehicle. Incredibly, I don’t suspect Taurus drivers of purchasing safety at my expense.

    (any other vehicle except a moorcycle, and a gold-wing would still probably come out on top)

  3. Tom says:


    Hooray, you nailed this one. I drive an SUV, my wife drives a minivan. We are safer if god forbid a passenger car happens to hit us.

    Why do we drive these cars? The answer may lie in the same path as why we live in the neighborhood we do, and send our children to the schools they do. We firmly believe in giving ourselves and our children the best opportunities in the safest enviroment that we can. Darwinian in my opinion.

  4. John Lemon says:

    First, James correctly points out the flawed comparisons in the study (or at least the lack of information with which to make the proper comparisons).
    But lets assume that the SUV safety report is correct in its comparisons. It is making a rather odd implicit argument: When buying a car, you should purchase based on the safety of others, not yourself.
    Now, having made that explicit, I doubt that anyone would say that is a sound argument. The implication is that since individuals won’t buy cars based upon the safety of others, some Leviathan will have to. Welcome to the Nanny state!

  5. Rodney Dill says:

    So if you bought that SUV for “safety,” just keep in mind that you bought that safety at the expense of the safety of others.

    duh. And, if you forego purchase of a SUV for the safety of others, you are intentionally putting yourself and your loved ones at greater risk.

  6. Dodd says:

    Put another, less tendentious way, we all choose how much safety we are willing to pay for, as part of the “package deal” we select when we make a purchase. Those who buy (government mandated) tinfoil boxes consciously choose to buy less, presumably because they prefering other goods (newness, reliability, gas mileage).

  7. Dodd says:

    Grr! Hasty cut-and-paste typo. Strike “prefering” and substitute “prefer.”

  8. James Joyner says:

    “they be prefering” would also work in that sentence…

  9. bryan says:

    I think all the drivers of the “Honda Camry” are safe from motorcycle drivers, since Honda doesn’t make the Camry. Toyota does. 😉

    I can’t believe I’m the first person to catch this, after 8 comments.

  10. James Joyner says:

    True ’nuff. They’re all the same car, though;)