As an estimated 39 million Americans prepare to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, a new report paints a sobering picture of which vehicles have the worst track records for drivers being killed in accidents.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some of the smallest cars on the road have the highest driver fatality rates.
“If you hit something bigger than you, you are more likely to die,” said Chuck Farmer, vice president of research for IIHS. “Physics matter. The bigger the vehicle, the safer you are in an accident.”
The IIHS analyzed fatal crash data collected by the federal government between 2012 and 2015 to come up with the rating for 208 models. The study only included vehicles where at least 100,000 were registered over the four-year period. As a result, some models like the Tesla Model S are not listed.
“The Hyundai Accent meets or exceeds all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set by the U.S. government and performs well in various safety tests and is rated a 4-star overall by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration),” Hyundai said. “We are very confident that the Accent performs safely for owners, drivers and passengers.”
Kia wasn’t immediately available for comment.
On the other end of the spectrum, the IIHS said there were 11 models where no drivers were killed in accidents between 2012 and 2015. They included several SUV’s such as the Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-9 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
“The numbers don’t tell us about many factors involved in accidents, but they do show that size matters,” said Farmer.
In the U.S., 2,822 drivers were killed in auto accidents between 2012 and 2015, an increase of 58 percent compared with 2011, the last time the IIHS studied driver deaths.
That increase is not surprising, since Americans have been driving more miles due to an improving economy, lower gas prices and other factors.
The IIHS study comes as America heads into the summer travel season, when highway fatalities historically increase.