Drivers are much more likely to die in a small car than a large one, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The three-year study, which looked at driver fatalities that happened from 2015 through 2018, found that the size and weight of vehicles matter a lot when it comes to safety.
Fatality rates were much higher in small cars than in larger vehicles like SUVs, pickups, and minivans. Small and mini-sized cars had the highest fatality rates, and large luxury SUVs had the lowest rates.
Joe Nolan, senior vice president of vehicle research at IIHS, said in a press release that smaller vehicles offer less protection for the driver in accidents and “their lighter mass means that they take the brunt of collisions with larger vehicles.”
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What Are the Safest Cars to Drive?
Seven vehicles in the study registered statistically zero deaths:
- GMC Yukon XL
- Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
- Porsche Cayenne
- Lexus NX 200t
- Infiniti QX60
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is notable because it’s the only small car on the list.
Another small car that defied the trend of smaller cars being more dangerous is the electric Nissan Leaf, which had only five deaths per million registered vehicle years. (A registered vehicle year is one vehicle registered for one year.)
Nine of the 20 vehicles with the lowest fatality rates were luxury SUVs, including the QX60, Evoque, Cayenne, and NX. All of the 20 top-rated vehicles had nine or fewer fatalities per million registered vehicle years. However, not all SUVs fared better than cars. Smaller, two-wheel-drive SUVs had almost the same fatality rate as midsized sedans with 42 compared to 43.
Why Are Some Cars Safer Than Others?
While new small cars are safer than they have ever been, new larger and heavier vehicles –notably SUVs – are still significantly safer for occupants than small ones. The reason comes down to physics. Bigger and heavier is safer than smaller and lighter. SUVs weigh more than cars and have longer hoods and larger crush zones, which gives them an advantage in frontal crashes.
A heavier vehicle will usually push a lighter vehicle backward during an impact. Because of this, there is less force on the occupants of the larger, heavier vehicle and more on those in the smaller, lighter vehicle.
Death Rate by Type of Car
Seven vehicles had statistically zero deaths for the three-year period. The IIHS rankings below are based on the least number of driver deaths per million registered vehicle years:
- GMC Yukon XL: 0
- Infiniti QX60: 0
- Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: 0
- Lexus NX 200t: 0
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 0
- Porsche Cayenne: 0
- Volkswagen Golf: 0
- Lexus GX: 3
- Subaru Outback: 3
- Acura RDX: 4
The rankings below are based on the highest number of driver deaths per million registered vehicle years, beginning with the model with the highest death rate.
- Ford Fiesta: 141
- Hyundai Accent: 116
- Chevrolet Sonic: 98
- Nissan Versa Note: 96
- Fiat 500: 95
- Hyundai Elantra: 89
- Kia Forte: 89
- Nissan Versa: 88
- Kia Rio: 87
- Ford Mustang GT: 81
Which Type of Large Car is Most Dangerous?
The Ford Mustang GT coupe was the only mid-sized vehicle to make the 10 most dangerous vehicles list. The structure and safety cage on newer Mustang models received marginal ratings from the IIHS. This means that the safety cage may not be as effective in the case of serious crashes. The Mustang GT coupe had 81 deaths per million registrations, 23 deaths per million single-vehicle crashes, 12 death per million single-vehicle rollover, and 58 deaths per million multi-vehicle crashes.
Another midsize car that made the list of the 20 vehicles with the highest fatality rates was the Buick Verano. The Verano had 68 deaths per million registrations, 35 deaths per million single-vehicle crashes, 33 deaths per million single-vehicle rollover, and 14 deaths per million multi-vehicle crashes.
What Type of Small Car Is Most Dangerous?
The Ford Fiesta had the highest number of deaths per million registered vehicle years with 141. The Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic followed with 116 and 98 deaths, respectively, per million registered vehicle years.
The category of mini cars had an overall average rate of 108 deaths per million vehicle years. The small car category had a rate of 62 deaths per million vehicles.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer If Your Loved One Was Killed in a Car Accident
If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has died in a car accident caused by another driver, you should not have to shoulder the financial burden of this accident alone. Allow the North Carolina car accident attorneys at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert to handle all aspects of your case so you can focus on your health and recovery.
Our highly skilled and compassionate legal team has many years of experience representing car accident victims and negotiating with insurance companies to fight for the maximum compensation they deserve.
Call us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with the North Carolina car accident lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert. Our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you will owe no upfront fees. You only owe us whenever you recover compensation for your car accident.