It’s a sign of the times that so many articles are written about the safest cars in America and those electric vehicles with the longest range. A study that most writers don’t want to look at is which vehicles have the highest driver death rates. This is by no means a fun topic to write about but it will be eye opening for some. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released its list of the vehicles with the highest death rates for the 2020 model year, finding that higher-horsepower cars and those on the smaller side of the spectrum were more likely to have fatalities in a crash.
The IIHS calculates death rates every three years and they have done this since 1989. The most recent study was the first time they included their statistical compilations for the best and worst models. Not surprising is 6 of the 21 most deadly vehicles for driver death rates were muscle cars. The specific muscle cars were the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. The driver death rates were tied to 2 different Mitsubishi Mirage variants, while the lowest came from the BMW X3, Lexus ES 350 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The overall average for this latest study sits at 38 deaths per million registered vehicle years and that represents an increase from 36 in 2017 and only 28 in 2011.
The list of the vehicles with the highest death rates includes:
- Mitsubishi Mirage G4: 205 deaths
- Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback: 183 deaths
- Dodge Challenger: 154 deaths
- Hyundai Accent: 152 deaths
- Chevrolet Spark: 151 deaths
- Kia Rio Sedan: 122 deaths
- Dodge Charger Hemi 2WD: 118 deaths
- Chevy Camaro Convertible: 113 deaths
- Nissan Altima: 113 deaths
- Kia Forte: 111 deaths
The IIHS reviewed numbers for Hemi-powered Dodge Chargers separately from the rest of the Charger lineup. Charger sedans with V6 engines sit at 91. The Chevy Camaro hardtop has close to the same death rate as the convertible with a rate of 110. The Ford Mustang rounds out the American muscle coupe list with 97 and this was specifically convertible Mustang models.
This year’s release provided an interesting change in the data that IIHS presented. Small cars had more fatalities, and large cars had fewer, while larger vehicles tend to kill other drivers at higher rates than their smaller, lighter counterparts. The Ram 3500, Dodge Charger, and Ford F-350 were the worst at killing other drivers. The IIHS noted out that many newer models are safer than their predecessors, so some of the imbalance in crash safety could come from collisions between new cars and older models. At the same time, some of the numbers come from drivers’ aggressive behavior, as the IIHS points out that muscle cars’ place high on the list suggests owners are not the most responsible drivers on the roads.
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