Deadliest vehicles

Your chances of dying in a crash in a late-model U.S. motor vehicle have fallen by more than one-third during the past three years according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent non-profit organization that is “dedicated to reducing the losses from crashes on the nation’s roads.”

However, thousands upon thousands continue to die in car accidents every year in South Carolina and across the country.

A major cause of car accidents is negligent and reckless driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving. However, another significant reason for crashes is the design of automobiles.

Improved vehicle designs bring down death rates, the IIHS reported earlier this year. However, in the same report, the IIHS identified many vehicles that are not safe.

A record nine vehicles from the 2011 model year have driver death rates of zero per one million registered vehicle years, according to the IIHS. (A registered vehicle year is one vehicle registered for one year.)

At the same time, three cars have death rates exceeding 100 per one million registered vehicle years. In particular, the Kia Rio has 149 driver deaths per one million registered vehicle years.

IIHS reports that among all 2011 models, 28 driver deaths occurred per one million registered vehicle years through the 2012 calendar year, which was down from 48 for 2008 models through 2009.

Report Shows Smaller Vehicles Have Higher Death Rates

According to IIHS, death rates by vehicle type and size show that the smallest vehicles typically have the highest death rates and, with some exceptions, death rates tend to go down as size goes up.

“It’s Packaging 101,” IIHS spokesman Russ Rader told USA Today. “If the occupant compartment stays intact, the seat belts and air bags can do their jobs.”

Here are the IIHS’s 10 “deadliest vehicles” on American roads:

(Although the numbers reflect 2011 models, data from earlier model-year vehicles as far back as 2008 are included if the vehicles were not substantially redesigned before 2011. To be included, a vehicle must have had at least 100,000 registered vehicle years of exposure during 2009-12 or at least 20 deaths.)

Vehicle (with link to IIHS 2015 ratings where available) Type Driver deaths per million registered vehicle years Multiple-vehicle crashes Single-vehicle crashes Single-vehicle rollovers
Kia Rio 4-door mini 149 96 54 15
Nissan Versa (sedan) 4-door small 130 44 87 51
Hyundai Accent 4-door mini 120 65 53 16
Chevrolet Aveo(2011 model) 4-door mini 99 65 31 10
Hyundai Accent 2-door mini 86 43 48 20
Chevrolet Camaro Sports car coupe 80 19 60 25
Chevrolet Silverado(1500 Crew 4WD) Large pickup truck 79 40 36 17
Honda Civic 2-door small 76 46 29 10
Nissan Versa(Hatchback; 2012 model) 4-door small 71 37 33 20
Ford Focus 4-door small 70 55 13 5


IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby  cautions that “the complete elimination of traffic deaths is still many decades away and, along with vehicle improvements, getting there will require changes in road design and public policy that can help protect all road users. “Still, the rise in the number of vehicles with zero driver deaths shows what’s possible.”

If you believe an automotive defect, including faulty design, played a role in the injuries you or a loved one suffered in a South Carolina car accident, contact the Jebaily Law Firm for a free legal consultation to discuss your case.

Jebaily Law Firm

Jebaily Law Firm, is one of South Carolina’s long-established and well-respected legal practices. With offices in Florence, North Myrtle Beach, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., we are trial lawyers focused on plaintiff litigation in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and social security disability. Established in 1969, we have more than 100 years of combined legal experience in protecting the rights of clients and advocating for the safety and well-being of South Carolina citizens.