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Fewer People Being Killed in Car-Truck Collisions, Study Finds

By Michelle Koueiter

By AutoWeek Sep 28, 2011 12:19PM

Design changes to pickups and SUVs have helped cut deaths in car-truck crashes. (Image via AutoWeek.)

Death rates in crashes between big trucks and cars dropped 64 percent in 2008-09 compared with 2000-01, according to an insurance-industry study of government data.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cited changes in vehicle design, particularly for SUVs and pickups, as a key factor in the decline.

The number of deaths for car and minivan passengers involved in crashes with larger vehicles fell from 44 per million in 2000-01 to 16 deaths per million in 2008-09, the study found.

The institute conducted the analysis based on crash data for one- to four-year-old vehicles.

In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged automakers to improve SUVs and pickups so that collisions would be more survivable for those in smaller cars.

As part of the effort to satisfy this request, new NHTSA standards require electronic stability control and stronger vehicle structures to prevent skids and rollovers.

The institute found that more safety features in smaller vehicles might also play a part in the improved survival rate. However, the group mainly credits design changes for pickups and SUVs, such as matching the heights of bumpers with those of smaller cars.

In previous decades, rigid frame rails on pickups and SUVs were high enough off the ground that they collided with the thinner sheetmetal on car doors in a crash.

Though the risk of death has decreased significantly in such an accident, the study did find that car occupants are still more likely to die in a collision with a pickup than with a car. So, there's more work to be done.

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Dec 8, 2012 5:13AM
With gas going between  3-5 dollars a gallon maybe people are driving less. 
Dec 8, 2012 6:06AM
YUP! Bring gas down and Accidents Go UP! Try that Experiment!
Dec 8, 2012 1:47PM
Why they ever went away from standard heights for bumpers has always puzzled me.

I really appreciate what folks have to say about what I affectionately call my Idaho Limo. Yes, it does glide down the road at 55 with 18" schedule E 85psi tires. Yes it drives right over all that metal junk and glass left by other vehicular mishaps. YES I feel safer when I see those multi tasking texting tweeting "trouble looking for a place to happen" cell phone addicts run a Red Light in a Mercedes.

and nope, I would not sell my 1985 Dodge with a new motor and all rebuilt running gear because a new one is three times the cost. Too bad they modified out that nice hollow exhaust rumble that tells you the  rig is running right. It feels like more of a road trip than those modern day "zippity do daa" boom boxes will ever dream of!  


Dec 8, 2012 3:41PM
That seems reasonable.  New cars fold up like accordions when threatened by another vehicle.  If they actually make contact, the newer car flies into hundreds of pieces all going in different directions.  The plastic bumpers snap right off and mark the point of impact.  It will be right there.  Even fewer will be killed when they replace the existing glass with soft clear plastic and the few remeaing metal parts with molded rubber.  Then, they should just bounce off each other.  A lady on a new car backed into my old truck in a parking lot.  Total rearend body panels replacement and new fiberglass fenders required.  Not even a scratch on the trailer hitch on my old  truck.  Nothing else touched her car.  I see new cars every day with those inverted baseball size dents in the plastic bumpers!! Body shops should love it!!!
Sep 30, 2011 6:26AM
Pretty amazing statistic given the almost atmospheric height of new pickups today, even the 2wd sits so high that the top of the tailgate is nearly five foot from the ground, making the need for handles, and bars just to be able to climb up into the box. While the bodies sit high up, the ground clearance remains about the same for the axles, transfer cases, and rear ends. This higher than necessary center of gravity negatively affects all aspects of pickups handling, but the companies evidently believe everyone wants to drive a monster truck, or just look down on everyone else. I wonder what happens when a Mazda Miata runs into the rear of any new domestic full size pickup. Could put new meaning to going topless. Smile 
Dec 8, 2012 3:29PM
The trucks are so big because, being so popular that way, the manufacturers have used their money and influence to change or go around the old laws regarding bumper heights, etc. Why do so many people feel the desire to drive a locomotive type pickup or SUV?? I see endless numbers of huge SUVs and pickup trucks hauling only 1 person, the driver, and nothing in the back. Or 'duelies', the 6 wheeled pickups, same way. All they really need is a car, but they won't have it that way.
Dec 8, 2012 6:00AM
Yesterday ended the 2012 Assault on the public with "medicare supplement" ads!!! Thank God!!!!  more people survive car wrecks when they are drunk or drugged up.   Government is drugging the nation up with medicare supplement ads and "ask your doctor" ads.  No relief from "ask your doctor" but medicare supplement ads are taking a reprieve to regroup for the 2013 campaign!  Enjoy the next few months until they start up again!  I plan to celebrate in some small way today!! We are throiugh with medicare supplement ads, hopefully, for a few months now! Thank you, Jesus!! Thank you, God!!! Amen!!!
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