Does the car you drive matter when it comes to safety?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Safety

When you’re looking into buying a new car, something you should certainly consider is how the car has rated on its safety tests. Both the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration run safety tests for most vehicles on the roads today.

Another possible way to determine how safe a particular make or model of a vehicle is includes looking at the driver death rates. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety calculated the death rates for model year 2017 vehicles to determine how safe those vehicles were.

What’s the vehicle with the greatest number of driver deaths in 2017?

Looking at 2017 and equivalent models from 2015 to 2018, the IIHS found that the highest death rate could be attributed to the Ford Fiesta. That vehicle, a four-door minicar, had 141 driver deaths.

Looking at small-sized vehicles in that same range, the Chevrolet Sonic ranked the worst with 98 total driver deaths. In midsized vehicles, the Buick Verano scored 68, the highest in the category.

For large vehicles, the Dodge Charger 2WD scored worst with 62 total driver deaths.

Did any vehicles score zero deaths?

Yes. Seven total vehicles scored zero, including the Volkswagen Golf, Porsche Cayenne 4WD and several others.

What does this data really mean when you’re looking at a car, SUV or truck you want to purchase?

The rates given by the IIHS are the number of driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. Results also included the three previous years of a specific model of vehicle if the design hadn’t been significantly changed in that time.

The data only looks at driver deaths, not passenger deaths or overall crash rates. That being said, this does give an overall feel for how safe a driver is in one of these vehicles. Combined with other data, like the crash reports from the NHTSA or the safety reviews from the IIHS, it’s possible to find a vehicle that is both well-rounded, attractive and safe to drive. The IIHS does not update this data annually, but instead focuses on doing so around every three years. A new update should come within the next year.

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