IIHS: US Driver Fatalities Fall One-Third In Three Years

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Per a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, driver fatalities in the United States have fallen by a third over the past three years.

Automotive News says the report’s findings come after the seemingly endless recall parade of 2014, which saw 60.5 million vehicles in the U.S. brought in for repair work, an all-time industry record.

The IIHS added that nine vehicles made in 2011 or earlier had no fatalities recorded between 2009 and 2012: Audi A4 4WD, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sorento 2WD, Lexus RX 350 4WD, Mercedes-Benz GL-class 4WD, Subaru Legacy 4WD, Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD, Toyota Sequoia 4WD and Volvo XC90 4WD. The list marks an improvement in safety according to the non-profit group, when only eight years ago, “there were no models with driver death rates of zero.”

However, while most of the vehicles with zero fatalities are SUVs and crossovers, most of the vehicles with the highest number of deaths over the same period are compacts like the Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and Kia Rio. The report confirms this, proclaiming that “with some exceptions, death rates tend to go down as size goes up.” This is a change from a decade earlier, when SUVs and crossovers had higher numbers of deaths due to a lack of stability controls and other systems meant to prevent roll-over.

As far as total elimination of traffic fatalities in the U.S. goes, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby says such a thing is decades away, and would require not only continued improvements in vehicle safety, but changes in road construction and public safety policy, as well. The report adds that the Great Recession helped to contribute toward the decline in deaths, warning that as the economy continues its recovery, and without said policy changes, the decline could reverse.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Sjalabais Sjalabais on Jan 31, 2015

    "\3 For example, IIHS (1991) reported that the automobile model with the highest fatality rate in the late 1980's was the Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, with 4.7 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles. The Volvo 240 had the lowest fatality rate for that period at 0.5 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles." http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-PEMD-95-4/html/GAOREPORTS-PEMD-95-4.htm If I remember correctly, that particular car had a couple of years without fatalities 3-4 decades ago already.

    • Sjalabais Sjalabais on Jan 31, 2015

      Found another one: "No driver deaths at all occurred in single-vehicle crashes of the Volvo 240 during 1990-94. In contrast, the driver death rate in single-vehicle crashes of the Geo Tracker was exceeded only by the rate for the Chevrolet Corvette among all 178 cars the Institute studied." "Of 178 popular passenger vehicle models in the study, the lowest death rate was for 1990-93 Volvo 240s--an average of 0.1 driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles. The highest rate was for 1991-1993 two-wheel-drive Geo Trackers--3.2 driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles. The average for all vehicles was 1.1 driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles." http://www.usroads.com/journals/aruj/9702/ru970207.htm Remember, the Volvo 240 is essentially a 1974 design.

  • John John on Jan 31, 2015

    If we wanted to further reduce deaths and permanent severe disability from auto accidents the cheapest way possible, we would request everyone in an automobile wear a helmet.

    • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Feb 01, 2015

      Years ago I had a >2000 lb 1977 Toyota Corolla. The car woiuld have had a bit of trouble getting out of its own way, and it would have been VERY dangerous in any sort of serious crash. During the last few years I had the thing, I often wore a bicycle helmet while driving it.

  • Vatchy And how is the government going to recoup the losses from gas taxes and EV incentives? They are going to find another way to tax us. Maybe by attaching a GPS device to every car and charging by the mile.
  • Kwik_Shift And the so-called GND / TGR experts were so sure of themselves.
  • Verbal It seems there is an increasing number of cases where the factories send out software updates to fix their products in the customer fleet. Either their software engineers don't know what they're doing, or the factories are using their customers as beta testers, or both.
  • Kwik_Shift "But wait...there's more!"
  • Buickman Corruption vs Ineptitude.