NBC Touts SUVs as Among Safest Vehicles to Drive

NBC's Saturday Today show ran a piece recounting recent car safety tests which find that large vehicles like SUVs are among the safest vehicles to drive. The same vehicles that used to receive much negative attention from the media because of rollover accidents and lower fuel efficiency seem to have seen improvements in the likelihood of rollovers. NBC correspondent Tom Costello on Saturday gave a positive review of SUVs and other large vehicles. Anchor Amy Robach introduced the report citing "surprising findings" of safety tests.

Costello soon informed viewers: "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports today the overall safest vehicles on the road are minivans, with 25 deaths per million registered vehicles. SUVs are close behind with 28 deaths per million vehicles. And that's a surprise since just a few years ago, SUVs were prone to rollovers and considered dangerous."

Below is a transcript of the report from the June 11 Saturday Today on NBC:

AMY ROBACH: Safety on the road is a priority for any family, but which car offers the best and least protection? Some surprising findings from NBC's Tom Costello.

TOM COSTELLO: You know the excitement of buying a new car? In Silver Spring, Maryland, the Paskill family decided on a Toyota Sienna. It turns out they're buying one of the safest cars on the road.

BECKY PASKILL: And I can, you know, commute to work and pick them up from school and all of that, and maybe take it on a long car trip, and I just feel safe in this car, and I think it's going to be great.

COSTELLO: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports today the overall safest vehicles on the road are minivans, with 25 deaths per million registered vehicles. SUVs are close behind with 28 deaths per million vehicles. And that's a surprise since just a few years ago, SUVs were prone to rollovers and considered dangerous. What's changed? Electronic stability control. Here's a vehicle without it and the same vehicle with it. In cars that have electronic stability control, the fatal rollover crash rate has been cut by 75 percent.

ANNE MCCARTT, INSURANCE INSTITUTE OF HIGHWAY SAFETY: It's especially important for SUVs and pickups, which have had a tendency to roll over because they tend to be top heavy.

COSTELLO: And the evidence suggests the bigger the car, the safer the car. In all, seven models had zero fatalities from 2006 through 2009 - zero. All of them large or mid-sized cars...

MCCART: The smaller the vehicle, the less protection you get if you're involved in a crash.

PASKILL: Our children mean the world to us, so, I mean, for us we just want to make sure that, you know, that we do our part driving well and then that we're in a safe car, too.

COSTELLO: Back in Maryland, the Paskills are hoping they've bought themselves both safety and peace of mind.