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Kids at Greatest Risk in SUV Rollovers

More likely to suffer death or injury than in car rollovers

Apr 4, 2003 | HealthScoutNews)

Children riding in sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are much more likely to suffer death or injury during rollover crashes than those riding in cars that roll over and crash.

But the overall risk of death for children during rollovers is not higher for those riding in SUVs compared with those riding in cars, says an American study in the March issue of Injury Prevention .

Researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center examined U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on children younger than 16 who were passengers in motor vehicle crashes in the United States between 1993 and 1998.

They found one of every 10 children in crashes during that time was involved in a rollover crash. The risk of death is 80 percent greater and the risk of injury more than doubles for children involved in rollover crashes compared to other types of crashes.

The risk of being in a rollover crash was 11 times greater for children riding in SUVs compared with children riding in passenger cars. The study found 60 percent of children involved in rollover crashes were riding in SUVs. In comparison, 4.4 percent of children involved in non-rollover crashes were riding in cars.

"The tendency of SUVs to be involved in rollover crashes has been the subject of recent attention. While the risk of death from being involved in a rollover is greater in an SUV, this may be outweighed by the lower risk of death due to riding in a heavier vehicle in other kinds of crashes," principal investigator Dr. Frederick Rivara, a University of Washington professor of pediatrics, says in a news release.

"More research is needed on the question of whether SUVs are generally safer or less safe than other vehicles on the road," Rivara adds.

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