Insurance Study Shows Cars With Fewest Deaths

car My first car was a 1965 Chevy Impala SS. It was blue, with a black interior, bucket seats–the whole nine yards. It was a dream car for a kid just coming out of high school (yes, I did work and earn the money to buy it myself). What it possessed in power and beauty however, it lacked in safety. There were no three point seat belts (who used seat belts in the 60’s anyway); there were no headrests; no front and rear end cushioned bumper protections, no stability controls, no modern day sensors, no back up camera’s. These are all safety features we take for granted today. And the safety has paid off in fewer personal injuries and deaths arising out of automobile accidents.

As an Alameda personal injury lawyer, a large portion of my practice involves injury claims arising out of car accidents. So I am constantly looking at studies and scientific data which may relate to these types of personal injury car accident cases.

Recently, I reviewed a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concerning death rates associated with different makes and models of cars, SUV’s etc. The Institute studied deaths from car crashes for the years between 2009 and 2012. It found that newer vehicles with newer technology, and most importantly stability control, had the fewest deaths associated with the use of these cars. The study found that there were nine vehicles with no record of any deaths associated with them for the time period. Six of these vehicles were SUV’s. The authors of the study concluded that this was likely due to the fact that their size offered more protection from the forces associated with a crash.

On the other end of the spectrum, the study revealed that smaller cars dominated the list of those most likely to be involved in fatal car crashes. To see where your car ranks on the list go to “Death-proof cars? Study finds nine models with zero driver fatalities.”

While the findings may not be startling, as one would expect to have more protection in a larger vehicle than in a smaller one, the Institute credited other technologies as well for the improved fatality rates of newer cars. Those include such things as automatic emergency braking and radar based cruise control which can automatically slow down cars in traffic.

The study fails to mention, however, the important role that lawyers have played in helping improve driver safety. Many safety changes to cars over the years have been made only after car manufacturers have been successfully sued by products liability injury lawyers for defects in the cars. Some of the obvious cases that come to mind, are those involving exploding gas tanks such as the Ford Pinto litigation; instability and rollover problems as documented in the Ford Explorer litigation, and numerous cases against car manufacturers which have improved seat back design to prevent serious spinal cord injuries. Thus, while the auto manufacturers still like to sell the sizzle and all the fancy bells and whistles , the legal system holds them accountable to make sure the cars they sell are safe.

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