The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent educational and scientific nonprofit organization dedicated to reduce losses due to deaths, injuries and property damage from car accidents on our highways and roads, reported that there was a huge improvement from its last study in 2008 from 48 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years to just 28 for 2011 model year vehicles (registered vehicle year means one car registered for one year).
Drivers in the United States are now less likely to be killed in car and other vehicle accidents due to better car safety systems coupled with the increasing use of restraining systems – that is seat belts and shoulder straps.
Further, mid-size and large autos had much fewer driver fatalities than small and mini-sized vehicles, according to the IIHS.
The Los Angeles Times (January 30, 2015, C1) wrote that the following “large” cars had zero deaths during the study period: Honda Odyssey, Mercedes-Benz GL class and Toyota Sequoia.
The following “mid-size” cars also had an overall death rate of zero for the study years: Audi A4, Kia Sorento, Lexus RX 350 (driven by one of our staff members), Subaru Legacy, Toyota Highlander and Volvo XC90.
On the other side of the spectrum, the IIHS found that the Kia Rio, a four (4) door mini-class car, had the highest number of deaths of the autos studied – 149 deaths per registered vehicle rates. Second in car accident deaths was the Nissan Versa sedan, another four (4) door car, but in the small auto category, with 130 overall driver deaths per million. The Nissan Versa also had the highest “single vehicle rollover rate” of any of the vehicles studied during this period.
Several cars had over 60 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years: Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet HHR, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Cube and Nissan Versa hatchback.
Of the 19 best cars with less than six (6) car accident fatalities per million, none was from the “small” or “mini-car” vehicle divisions. Thus, leading to the obvious conclusion that larger cars are much safer for their drivers and occupants.
Interestingly, the Chevrolet Camaro, a “large” class “sports car”, was reported as having the worst single car “crash” rates.
Specific examples of better safety systems resulting in lower driver deaths and fewer car accident wrongful death claims include better vehicle structure, electronic stability control systems (which, among other things, reduce risk of rollovers) and increased installation of side impact air bags.
The IIHS also reported that United States government studies found that more drivers use seat belts than ever before: now 87% of drivers routinely use seat belts while in 2013 it was 79%, in 1993 it was 66% and in 1983 only 14%. The 8% increase over just the last year from 79% to 87% is quite startling for only one year and extremely encouraging as we have found the use of seat belts and shoulder straps to be a major contributor to reducing serious injuries in car accidents. For example, we have represented injured clients in vehicle collisions with multiple occupants where the one occupant in the car who was not wearing a seat belt had noticeably greater injuries than the other occupants in the same vehicles.
Our legal team urges all drivers and passengers in cars and other vehicles, regardless of the size of the car or other vehicle, to always wear their seat belts and shoulder straps. And if the seat belts and other restraining devices are not working properly to have them fixed and NOT allow any passengers to ride in their vehicles without using proper, working safety restraining devices.
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