SUVs have long been criticized for safety-related reasons due to its propensity for rollover, limited visibility, and wide body in narrow lanes. Its high center of gravity makes it more prone to rollover accidents. According to the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration, 95 percent of rollovers are tripped by curb or shallow ditch.
Because of its design, these larger vehicles have poor rearward vision, and have led to many back-over deaths. With wide bodies, these vehicles also occupy a greater portion of road lanes and leave less room for cars and cyclists. To address these problem issues, SUV manufacturers are taking steps to increase the safety of these larger vehicles.
Changes to Reduce Rollover
Fortunately, many newer model SUVs have substantially improved rollover ratings. The newer models are lower and wider for better handling and engineering. Many are also now equipped with a new technology known as electronic stability control. This technology helps drivers regain control of the SUV when swerving.
The Miata Mazda now has a rollover risk of a low 7 percent. Many SUV manufacturers, such as General Motors, plan to make stability control standard equipment on its new models. Some Ford models are now engineered to even detect a rollover in progress and intervene to prevent it.
More Safety with Side Curtain Airbags
Even with the rollover improvement with electronic stability control, SUVs are still at risk for rollovers. However, most fatalities in rollover accidents are due to the occupant ejection.
In the event of a rollover, side curtain airbags help keep occupants inside the vehicles. Manufacturers are now equipping their SUVs with side curtain airbags that stay inflated long enough for multiple rolls.
Steps to Prevent Backovers
SUVs sit high and have a lot of large blind sports. Many manufacturers now offer a sonar-based park assist system that alerts the driver of nearing objects, such as a person or an obstacle.
Other new safety features include a backup camera that gives a wide-angle view when the vehicle is in reverse. These systems display an image with distance grid lines that brings both hidden rear and front objects to the attention of the driver right on-screen.
Other New Technologies for SUV Safety
Many newer SUVs like GMC Terrains feature the latest technologies for improved SUV safety. With forward collision alert, drivers are provided with a visual and audible signal, if a collision is imminent. Lane departure warning alerts the driver, if changing lanes without using a turn signal.
All wheel drive gives extra traction and adjusts torque in different road conditions. With uphill drive assist features, drivers can lift the foot off the brake while on a hill, and the system holds brake pressure for several seconds to switch to the accelerator.
Without a doubt, technology and consumer awareness are leading the way to safer SUVs.