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Which cars reduce your chance of a fatal car accident?

Weekly headlines chronicle dozens of Oregon fatal car accidents. It seems we are constantly being reminded of the tragic impact that fatal accidents have on our lives, families and communities. But did you know that fatal car accidents in Oregon are actually on the DECLINE?

In a recent study, Oregon was ranked in the top 10 states with a 31% decrease in the number of motor vehicle related fatalities since 2005 by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. In Oregon, the number of deaths in fatal car accidents were: 416 in 2008, 377 in 2009, and 336 in 2012. This notable improvement is not exclusive to Oregon, in fact, the U.S. has achieved historically low fatality and injury rates in recent years according to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2009.

Why such a significant decrease in fatal car accidents?

Oregon Ambulence_SMThere is not one reason alone for the decrease in fatal car accidents. The answer involves many social, legal and technical factors. For instance, social pressure and the strength of our laws have increased over the years with the goal of increasing seatbelt usage, and eliminating drinking and driving. When MADD was launched in the 1980s, the percentage of alcohol related Oregon fatal car accidents ranged between 45% and 62%. In 2012, the rate decreased to 31%, which demonstrates these programs have indeed had a positive effect. Perhaps the most surprising factor is the role technology and improved vehicle safety design has played in crash and injury outcomes.

Technology is a Leading Factor in Vehicle Safety

Advances in motor vehicle engineering and safety technology have significantly contributed to the reduction in car accident deaths in the U.S. In fact the chances of dying in a late-model car, which has been in a collision, have fallen by more than a third over three years, according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

Manufacturers are placing a very strong focus on occupant safety and accident avoidance. These technical improvements are having a huge impact on improving the chances of surviving a bad crash.

Here are the top features to consider when shopping for a safer car:

  • Lane change/obstruction sensors
  • Back-up cameras with obstruction detection
  • Forward scanning obstruction and collision avoidance systems
  • Stability control systems
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Traction control
  • Equipment operation and maintenance diagnostics
  • Anti-lock braking/ Autobrake systems
  • Front and side air bags that surround all passengers

SUVs are the Best Vehicles for Occupant Safety

If the survival of occupants in a car accident is significantly dependent on car design and safety features, then what type of vehicles are the safest? And what car models are considered unsafe?

Without a doubt, SUVs are the best vehicles when it comes to the safety of the occupants, with death rates lower than the newest cars, according to the report, “Saving Lives: Improved Vehicle Designs Bring Down Death Rates from the IIHS.

Ambulence_SmallYet, this hasn’t always been the case. Early SUV models were plagued with very high rollover accident rates because of the high center of gravity and narrow vehicle widths. A typical “tripped rollover” occurs when a vehicle losses control and slides sideways, as the result of tight cornering and excessive speed. The vehicle’s wheels are stopped or slowed, but the SUV’s side momentum flips the vehicle over. This issue and resulting injuries have been substantially minimized through the use of electronic stability control systems and side-curtain air bags.

The report also suggests that occupants of smaller vehicles are more likely to suffer life-threatening injuries when they are involved in a serious car accident.

Typically, with some exceptions, death rates tend to go up as vehicle size goes down.

Minicars such as the Kia Rao, Hyundai Accent or the Chevy Aveo, are notorious for their higher rate of driver deaths (between 99-149 deaths per million registered users).

Six of the Top Nine Vehicles with ZERO Accident Death Rates are SUVs

Now for the million-dollar question: Which cars have the lowest accident death rates?

Eight years ago, there was not a car model on the market with a driver death rate of zero. Now there are nine! For the first time since IIHS has been compiling the Lowest Rates of Driver Deaths statistics, 19 cars have established track records with 5 or fewer rates of driver deaths. Of these best-in-class cars, 9 have recorded ZERO fatalities, with the remaining 10 vehicles having fatality rates between 2 and 5. What is truly astonishing is that 14 of the 19 safest vehicles are SUVs, with only 1 SUV recording any deaths from a rollover accident. The top 9 vehicles with ZERO rates of driver deaths are:

Lowest_Rate_Driver_Deaths

Data Source: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/50/1/1

Dedicated to safety, car companies like Volvo continue to strive toward improving crash mortality rates. Following the introduction of their forward road-scanning technology in 2008, Volvo made the ambitious “fatality-free by 2020” pledge predicting no one would die in its 2020 new cars. Now over half way there, Volvo is still aiming towards its target, perhaps in a bit more realistic manner. “Not even the Pope is infallible,” said Volvo safety expert Trevor Rourke. “We’re trending towards zero….it is a vision …..that’s what we are aiming towards.” Far-fetched or reality, it is yet to be determined. With dedicated companies like Volvo, it sure seems like we are heading in the right direction.

Safer vehicles are not a replacement for driving safely

While technology and manufacturing are making newer model vehicles safer, it is not a replacement for safe driving.

By far, the biggest contributors to car accidents and fatalities are driver error including excessive speed, distracted driving, failing to keep a proper lookout and driving while under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicants.

Whether you are in a new model vehicle with the best safety features or an older model vehicle, driving both safely and defensively are your best chances to avoid being involved in a motor vehicle collision. Unfortunately, we can only control our own driving and there are some things that happen on public roadways that are out of our control. If you or a family member are injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision it is imperative that you protect your rights and seek legal representation.

Portland Accident Attorney, Travis Mayor

Personal_Injury_Attorney_Travis_MayorAs a Portland car accident attorney, my sole focus is to represent victims and their families who have been wrongfully injured as a result of another’s careless or intentional misconduct. I hope this website is a place to learn more about our law firm, as well as, an educational resource for Oregonians who have been victims of accidents.  It is not intended to be legal advice, as every case is unique and should be accurately evaluated.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of another person’s conduct, and you are looking for a skilled attorney to lead you through the insurance and legal roadblocks, please call today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Local (503) 444-2825, Toll free 1-800-949-1481, or email  travis@mayorlaw.com.

For additional information about personal injury cases, insurance, and maximizing your financial recovery, I recommend the following articles on my Blog:

8 Mistakes Insurance Companies Are Hoping You Make!

Oregon Car Accident FAQs

Oregon Car Accident Guide: Protect Your Rights and Maximize Your Financial Recovery

Oregon Car Insurance and Personal Injury Claims FAQs

Oregon Personal Injury Case FAQs