You may have heard that the type of vehicle you own can save your life in an accident. In short, people will say that you’re safer in a truck or an SUV than you are in a car. Is this true?

It can be. It all depends on the type of accident.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) examined the statistics, and they noted that smaller vehicles are at a disadvantage in multiple-car crashes. Those accidents could be as small as a two-car crash at a stoplight or as large as a 50-car pileup on an icy interstate.

Size is the reason. Larger cars have more mass and a stronger, larger structure to absorb the force of the crash. They also ride higher. This keeps people safe when accidents are unavoidable. Occupant death statistics show that people die far less often in SUVs and pickup trucks.

However, cars are far less likely to be involved in deadly crashes involving only one vehicle. This is especially true for rollover accidents. Most of the people who are in these fatal wrecks are driving trucks and SUVs.

The reason here is also, to a degree, attributed to size. A taller SUV or pickup truck is easier to roll because the center of gravity is higher. The vehicle can overbalance more easily. A sharp turn that may send a car into a skid with its low stance could flip an SUV into the ditch.

The key to take from this is that deadly accidents happen in all types of vehicles. If another driver caused a crash and killed one of your loved ones, make sure you know what legal options you may have.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Passenger vehicle occupants | 2015,” accessed Sep. 12, 2017