Jul 13, 2023 - Economy

These vehicles are the deadliest cars on the road, IIHS auto safety report says

Data: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; Chart: Axios Visuals

Small vehicles and muscle cars have the highest rates of driver deaths, according to a study released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Threat level: About 38 drivers were killed per million registered vehicle years for 2020 models and equivalent vehicles. That's up from 36 when IIHS last performed the study for the 2017 model year.

What they're saying: "The rise is consistent with a larger number of U.S. traffic fatalities over the four-year period covered by this study, compared with the previous one," IIHS said, noting that from 2018 to 2021, the U.S. had 155,136 traffic deaths, up from 147,599 from 2015 to 2018.

  • “We typically find that smaller vehicles have high driver death rates because they don’t provide as much protection, especially in crashes with larger, heavier SUVs and pickups,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement.

The intrigue: Americans are buying more pickups and SUVs, which usually have lower death rates than smaller vehicles, according to IIHS.

  • But speeding-related deaths rose 8% from 2020 to 2021, accounting for nearly one-third of car crash fatalities, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported this week.
  • “The muscle cars on this list highlight that a vehicle’s image and how it is marketed can also contribute to crash risk,” Harkey said.
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