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Study says it’s getting more dangerous to drive small

| May 31, 2020 | Wrongful death

Many of our Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog readers know of a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association released earlier this year indicating that pedestrian fatalities rose by 5 percent last year. Researchers believe that there are two main factors contributing to that dramatic increase: distracted driving and America’s love of large SUVs and pick-up trucks.

A new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) helps to explain why large and heavy passenger vehicles are so popular: Americans tend to feel safer behind the wheel of an SUV or pick-up.

The IIHS says that their triennial study on motor vehicle crash fatalities finds that that reasoning is sound.

Minicar dangers

Using data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) database, the IIHS ranked all 2017 vehicles by fatality rate (fatalities per million registered vehicle years). And the results are not good for owners of so-called minicars: the small cars comprise three-quarters of the 20 models with the highest fatality rates.

Almost half of the vehicles with the lowest fatality rates were SUVs and CUVs (compact utility vehicles).

Grim fatality rate

When you boil the numbers down, it comes to this: minicar drivers are five times more likely to die in a crash than those who are behind the wheels of large SUVs.

Those who are driving large SUVs have a rate of 15 fatalities per million registered vehicle years, while those in minicars have a death rate of 82, the IIHS says.

The group’s senior vice president of vehicle research explained: “Smaller vehicles offer less protection for the driver in crashes, and their lighter mass means that they take the brunt of collisions with larger vehicles.”

A reversal

The IIHS notes from the 1970s to the late 2000s, road fatalities of all kinds were in steady decline. The trend reversed in the past few years. For 2011 vehicles, the fatality rate was 28, which rose to 30 by 2014. With the demand for SUVs and CUVs growing, the fatality rate climbed to 36 by 2017.

The trend causes observers to wonder if the trend will eventually squeeze smaller cars out of the market.

Those who have been injured in a wreck caused by another driver’s negligence should contact a Twin Cities attorney experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation.