These cars have the highest driver death rates in America

We talk a lot about the safest cars or the EVs with the longest range, but there’s a whole world of automotive statistics with a decidedly darker theme. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released its list of the vehicles with the highest death rates for the 2020 model year, finding that higher-horsepower cars and those on the smaller side of the spectrum were more likely to have fatalities in a crash.

The IIHS calculates death rates every three years and has done so since 1989. The latest study was the first to include calculations for the best and worst models. Six of the 21 worst models for driver death rates were muscle cars, including the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger. The highest rates of driver deaths came from the two Mitsubishi Mirage variants, while the lowest came from the BMW X3, Lexus ES 350 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.


The overall average for this latest study sits at 38 deaths per million registered vehicle years. That's up from 36 in 2017 and just 28 in 2011.

The list of the vehicles with the highest death rates includes:

  1. Mitsubishi Mirage G4: 205 deaths

  2. Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback: 183 deaths

  3. Dodge Challenger: 154 deaths

  4. Hyundai Accent: 152 deaths

  5. Chevrolet Spark: 151 deaths

  6. Kia Rio Sedan: 122 deaths

  7. Dodge Charger Hemi 2WD: 118 deaths

  8. Chevy Camaro Convertible: 113 deaths

  9. Nissan Altima: 113 deaths

  10. Kia Forte: 111 deaths

Interestingly, the IIHS pulled numbers for Hemi-powered Dodge Chargers separately from the rest of the Charger lineup. Charger sedans with V6 engines sit at 91. The Chevy Camaro hardtop isn't far from its droptop sibling with a rate of 110. The Ford Mustang rounds out the American muscle coupe list with 97 (specifically convertible Mustang models).

There’s an interesting disconnect in the data that IIHS presented. Small cars had more fatalities, and large cars had fewer, while larger vehicles tend to kill other drivers at higher rates than their smaller, lighter counterparts. The Ram 3500, Dodge Charger, and Ford F-350 were the worst at killing other drivers. The IIHS also pointed out that newer models are safer than their predecessors, so some of the imbalance in crash safety could come from collisions between new cars and older models. At the same time, some of the numbers come from drivers’ aggressive behavior, as the IIHS points out that muscle cars’ place high on the list suggests owners are not the most responsible drivers on the roads.

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