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Swedish cars safest, says report

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20:15 CEST+02:00
A new Swedish report has confirmed what Swedes have always claimed: their home-grown car industry produces the world's safest cars. The report, from insurance giant Folksam, evaluates the safety of cars on Swedish roads by looking at their performance in car to car accidents.

This year's report is based on 94,100 car accidents between 1994 and 2004 as well as data collected from frontal, side and rear crash tests.

Both Volvo and Saab come out well in the report. The Volvo V70 and S70 as well as the Saab 9-3, Saab 9-5 and Saab 900 were all rated as 30% safer than the average car. Other cars that performed well include the Hyundai Accent and the Ford Focus in the smaller car sections.

In general, however, older models did not do as well, reflecting what the report noted was an overall improvement of car safety in the last 20 years. This it attributes to considerable improvements in the basic car construction as well as new safety systems. This has resulted in the risk of dying in a car accent declining by 90% compared to the 1980s.

However, it also noted that there is a 10 times greater risk of injury between the least safe and the safest cars that were evaluated.

On the negative side, the report advises against buying Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). The report quotes American research saying that SUVs are more likely to cause injury to the other party in a car accident. This is due to their weight, which can be higher than other types cars, and their high fronts, which can result in a 3 or 4-fold increase in the risk of injury to people in the other car.

In addition to safety, the report also evaluated the environmental friendliness of the cars. Here the Saab 9-3, Saab 9-5 and the Volvo V70 also did well. Other cars that performed well included the Toyota Yaris, Ford Focus and the Mitsubishi Carisma.

The overall prize as Sweden's safest cars was won by the Saab 9-3 and 9-5. Per Lenhoff, Head of Crash Safety Development at Saab, said, "this latest Folksam report is further independent confirmation of the effectiveness of our long-term work with car safety."

Andrew Wallace

Andrew Wallace is a freelance science and technology writer based in Sweden. He maintains a personal website

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