When it comes to safe vehicles, it's best to side with Sir Isaac Newton and the laws of physics.
Large cars and vans have the lowest rates of driver deaths in crashes, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released last week. Conversely, the list of vehicles with high rates of driver deaths is dominated by small cars and SUVs. Low-mass small cars are vulnerable in crashes. Top-heavy SUVs are prone to rollovers.
The average driver death rate for the survey period - vehicles from the 1999 through 2002 model years - was 87 per million registered vehicles, the institute said. That number has been declining since the group began tracking the data in the late 1980s, when it was higher than 100.
The Mercedes-Benz E class had the best score for the period at 10 deaths per million registered vehicles. The two-door, rear-drive Chevrolet Blazer SUV was at the other end of the survey's results with 308 deaths per million registered vehicles.
A General Motors spokesman said the survey fails to take into account driver behavior: "We know from decades of work that whether a driver dies in a crash has more to do with behavior than with the vehicle."
You may e-mail Dale Jewett at [email protected]
|Highs and lows|
|Vehicles with highest and lowest fatality rates, 1999-2002 models|
|Deaths per million vehicles|
|Chevrolet Blazer (2-door, rwd)||308|
|Mitsubishi Mirage (2-door)||209|
|Kia Rio (4-door)||200|
|Toyota 4Runner (4wd)||12|
|Mercedes E class||10|
|Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety|