…that “the good old days” were not nearly as good as modern times when it comes to auto safety. For those who crave a “classic” car for a daily driver, this is just one more thing to consider, over and above the reliability factor:
That’s great information. It also supports the ‘bigger is safer’ advice, with the safest vehicles typically mid-sized CUVs and sedans, while the 10 with the highest death rate are almost all compacts/subcompacts.
I can’t get behind the bigger is safer movement. If everyone and his dog didn’t have to drive an idiotically large vehicle, then the smaller vehicles would by default be safer because their drivers wouldn’t have to worry about getting run over by an SUV.
It’s kinda like an ecosystem; it’s perfectly safe to be a gazelle as long as there isn’t a lion around. If all we had were compacts and sub-compacts running into each other, then there wouldn’t be a safety disadvantage to driving a small car. Unfortunately we have little Honda Fits getting hit by 19 foot behemoths, and so the Fit driver thinks he needs to get a bigger car to stay safe.
But where does that arms race end? International had a semi-based pickup truck out a few years back. Do we want that to be common? I bet that thing’s real safe in a collision, unless you’re the guy getting hit by it.
Doesn’t have to be ‘idiotically large’, just bigger than a compact. These are the 10 worst, with the deaths/million registrations. A pretty clear pattern:
- Kia Rio four-door, 149
- Nissan Versa, 130
- Hyundai Accent four-door, 120
- Chevrolet Aveo, 99
- Hyundai Accent two-door, 86
- Chevrolet Camaro, 80
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew, 79
- Honda Civic two-door, 76
- Nissan Versa hatchback, 71
- Ford Focus, 70
Everyone buying smaller cars will never work unless there is some overwhelming driver that forces them into it- like fuel prices hitting $10 a gallon for example. People buy cars primarily based on emotion- primitive emotions coming from the reptilian part of the brain. Most people will agree that logically, smaller cars make more sense. Unfortunately, the rational part of the brain often is overruled by the more primitive part of the brain and they end up buying the large pick up instead. They may not even understand why it had more appeal.
There was a guy I saw once doing a talk on this aspect. Many people also (consciously or unconsciously) view the world as a hostile, dangerous place. Having a leg up on everyone else is desirable when it comes to surviving. Driving is like going to war and no one wants to go to war in a Yugo…
There is an ongoing marketing thrust leveraging these primitive drivers in your subconscious brain…and it works.
I call the list skewed: The Rio is built on the Accent platform. The Accent is on there twice. The Versa is on there twice. So, we have 50% of the list coming down to, for statistical purposes, 2 cars.
The Focus and the Civic are both larger than the mid-sized Accords used to be and are not compact. The Camaro is not a small car, and the Silverado is part of the problem if you jive with my theory.
Now we’ve drilled the list down to 3 actual small cars (Accent, Versa, Aveo). Of note is the absence of similarly-sized cars, the Fit, the Fiat 500, the Leaf, the Fiesta (smaller than the Focus), the Spark, the Mini Cooper, the Veloster, the Yaris, the iQ, the Mazda 2, the BMW 1-series, the MX5/Miata, the Smartcar, and the Mirage, to name a few.
If small cars are so inherently dangerous, why are they not better represented on this list when the Camaro, which has a wheelbase that’s only a few inches shorter than the BMW X5, and the Silverado, which is a large pickup truck, are?
No idea why you drop the Civic and Focus, they’re compacts (the others are subcompacts). 8 of ten cars are small or smaller (or 6 of 8 by your math). No cars of this class on the ‘best’ list.
Because calling the Civic and the Focus a small car is a joke. They can be on the list, but they aren’t small cars anymore.
But even if you count them as small cars, there are still a LOT of cars that are much smaller that didn’t make the list. Why?
I submit that the reason those small cars didn’t make the list is perhaps because those small cars are designed better from a crash safety perspective.
In short, poor crash safety design in a few specific small cars (going by your math, 8 out of 22 just from the other cars I can think of off the top of my head) does not mean that small cars are inherently dangerous, it just means that some small cars (and some large ones) don’t fare as well in a crash.
I also note that the study does not look at the cause of the wreck that killed the driver. It wouldn’t shock me if that Camaro is on the list because you can get them with 580 horsepower out of the box, which is a great way for a lower-skilled driver to wrap himself around a tree at triple digit speeds. In other words, perhaps the drivers of at least some of those cars are doing stupid things, and so it’s not the car’s fault that they died.
Regardless of how we parse the difference between the small and large cars tested today, @VDCdriver point is absolutly correct and even the worse cars of today are safer then the cars of yesterday. Cars with no head rests, no air bags, no crush zones, no seat belts, skinny tires less traction with poor handling suspension systems. Whiplash injuries alone were extremely common place with rear end collisions always being the most prevalent type of accidents.
We went decades without head rests. That’s the reason people were much shorted for decades. Natural selection weeded out taller people due to neck injuries ( just kidding). But seriously…we were idiots driving cars without seat belts and head restraints alone…forgetting all the other common place devices.
So, even if the worse cars are smaller, they are still infinitely safer then the average car of yesterday. Sure, you can make the case of a small compact colliding head on with an old caddy then assume the Caddy driver would survive…then just consider, he had no seat belt and headrest. Then the argument immedialy losses credibility as the driver starts bouncing around on the interior on his way out of the car like a projectile.
Just saying weight matters. It’s not all that matters, but it matters, and the data proves it. Here’s similar info from a couple of years ago (2011 IIHS study):
Yes…weight matters. I agree…but only when the vehicles have equivalent construction and crash worthiness. And, only when comparing vehicles in the same time frame. A small light car of today with more integrity would slice through an older heavier car like a knife through butter. Older cars and even not so old trucks lacked the stiffness to properly protect the occupants. . With computer enhanced “cages” and air bags, the better design tends to win. Given a commonality of design between two cars that collide with each other, yes, weight matters…but only if it’s designed in weight for safety. Just having a heavier car doesn’t always cut it. Truck owners who survived head on’s only to suffer the fate of roll overs misplaces the heavier at all costs.
Like you said…it is an important factor and does matter, but it is one factor.
While not totally devoid of credence, I always take surveys, polls, studies, and so on with a grain or two of salt simply because I feel that each case may have extenuating circumstances.
Take a couple of those vehicles from the list provided by texases for example. The Camaros have always been highly rated for safety. One has to then consider the demographic of Camaro owners.
While not applicable in every case, odds are the driving habits of a lot of Camaro owners may be a bit more aggressive than the average Impala or Camry owner.
Regarding the Chevy trucks, the same reasoning could apply there. Some of the Chevy truck guys may operate those things in ways that the average Imala or Camry owner would not.
Just my personal preference, but if I know that I’m going to get whacked I’d prefer to be in 5k pounds of a wannabe tank instead of a 2500 pound Econo-Box.
Okay, I think we can all agree the Honda Odyssey is not driven the same was the Camaro or the Focus ST are.
But still point taken. The Highlander and the Pilot were zero deaths and the Mazda CX-9 I have was 5. In IIHS testing the Mazda has poor roof strength, the others are better, I guess 5 drivers lost their life because of that.
Yes, most of those cars are small, but I suspect the more significant point is that most are cheap and have mostly young owners. The Camaro owners are also likely to be less cautious, and the Silverado may be on there because there are so many being driven out in the country, where fatality rates per mile are far higher than in urban areas. My farm kin drive like maniacs on dirt roads and more than a few have had potentially serious accidents. They don’t wear their seat belts, either.
I’d prefer to be in a 5k wannabe tank instead of a 2500 pound econobox Here comes a good natured whack comment.
That is fine and admirable but only if you can flip a lever just befor impact that changes the car you drive. . Driving a 5k car around, though cheaper then it used to be, just for collisions, was and will be much more expensive. As yet, weight has a strange way of using more energy, Ford has moved in the other direction( as have others)
Reduced weight not only is more efficient but enhances handling. Because heavier cars are such crappy handlers, I drive them much more conservatively. While they arguably have weight on their side, they just cause MORE damage too.
No one thinks about the other people they kill, only the occupants inside. Just the other day, less then a couple of miles from my house, a full size truck lost control ( as they typically do when driven even slightly too fast) and slammed into another big SUV which could not get out of it’s way…big on big ? Everyone was killed. In our state where nearly everyone it seems has larger trucks and cars, it happens a lot.
While I agree that how a vehicle is driven has a huge bearing on accident and death statistics, I am puzzled by how some folks are using that factor to explain the presence of the Chevy Silverado and the Chevy Camaro on that list, but the absence of similar, competing vehicles from that same list.
If the drivers of Silverados tend to drive them in sometimes dangerous manner, isn’t it logical to believe that drivers of Ford F-150s and Toyota Tacomas would drive their vehicles in a similar manner? Yet, neither of those competing trucks are on the “death list”.
If drivers of Chevy Camaros tend to take chances and to drive aggressively, wouldn’t it be logical to believe that those who drive Dodge Challengers and Ford Mustangs drive similarly? Yet, neither the Challenger nor the Mustang appear on that list of vehicles with a high death rate.
And then, there is this conundrum to ponder:
According to several sources, the vehicle that leads all others in the number of traffic tickets year after year is the Subaru Impreza WRX. Clearly, those little pocket rockets are driven mostly by younger guys who tend to take a lot of chances and to drive aggressively. However, that vehicle is absent from “the death list”.
The presence of some vehicles in one class on the list, but the absence of similar, competing vehicles from the same list would suggest to me that vehicle design plays a major role in the death rate, even though driver behavior is also a significant factor.
@shadowfax: I somewhat agree with you, but assuming the vehicles in question are recent, have seat belts, airbags, etc., I’d much rather be in a larger vehicle if, say it goes off the road and into a tree at 70MPH. Even with crumple zones, it’s good to have a bit of a buffer.
Think of the accident that killed Princess Diana. Yes, she still died, but can you imagine the same type of crash at 90MPH in a Kia Rio?
Pickup trucks lack the structural strength of an SUV of similar size and weight. The bed and cab are attached to the frame but not each other. When the frame bends in a severe accident, the pickup can fold up where the bed and cab meet.
Given a commonality of design between two cars that collide with each other, yes, weight matters
I think this is an important, and true, statement. But I think there are two divergent takeaways from it that are equally important: The first, and in my opinion, wrong, one is that this means I should run out and buy the largest vehicle I can afford.
The second, and the one I believe should be taken seriously, is that we should be responsible members of society and not engage in this idiotic arms race.
Hell, I can virtually guarantee my personal safety and buy an old Army M35 6x6 transport truck. If anyone collides with me, I’ll just roll right over them. They’ll be flat, and I might have to change a tire, so I can drive as much like an idiot as I want, and be almost perfectly safe. But that’s not a very good solution.
The chance that anyone will be in a debilitating accident is small anyway, but for those that are more risk averse, buying a larger vehicle can be a great comfort. My ex-boss bought an S500 Benz a couple of years ago. He said the deciding factor was the size as protection for his wife and their son.