Improvements in crash protection have made vehicles of all sizes safer, but bigger vehicles are still safer than smaller ones even with those improvements. As the chart below illustrates, crash deaths decline as vehicle size increases. A similar chart using weight instead of size would look almost the same.
"Smaller vehicles offer less protection for the driver in crashes, and their lighter mass means that they take the brunt of collisions with larger vehicles," Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president of vehicle research, said in a press release.
It's a matter of physics: Bigger and heavier is safer than smaller and lighter. Large vehicles weigh more and have longer hoods and bigger crush zones, which gives them an advantage in frontal crashes.
And, according to a recent research study, SUVs have been shown to be much safer than sedans. In fact, an SUV driver or passenger is at least 50 percent more likely to survive a car crash without suffering serious injuries than an individual riding in a sedan.
SUVs are designed with extra space, reducing the risk of injury in a head-on collision. A recent crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that passengers of heavier, larger vehicles experience less force during an accident.
Drivers are protected by more car safety features than ever, including airbags, shatter resistant glass, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and more. Constantly evolving vehicles have created the need for more car safety features than vehicles of the past.
SUV head-on crashes, the study found that the odds of death were 7.6 times higher for the car driver than the SUV driver. In crashes where the car had a better front crash-test rating than the SUV did, the car's driver fared a bit better but was still four and a half times more likely to die than the SUV driver.
Small cars are much easier to maneuver than large cars or big, powerful SUVs. This is especially an advantage for those who live in cities with heavy traffic or on smaller streets. Parallel parking is also easier, as well as squeezing into spots in a crowded parking lot.
On the other hand, the 2-door Focus performed better than the 4-door version, earning a good rating in the side test and a Top Safety Pick designation compared with the 4-door's acceptable performance in the side test.
The safest car color is white. White vehicles have a 12% lesser chance of accident involvement than black vehicles under all weather and lighting conditions. White provides a lot of contrast between the vehicles and their surroundings, making these cars easy for other motorists to see.