A brand new Mitsubishi Mirage can be yours for just $17,650 out-the-door, making it one of the cheapest new cars for sale in the United States. New data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that driving one may not be a great plan, though. The Mirage hatchback and its sedan sibling, the Mirage G4, have the two highest driver death rates in the country.
There are several other interesting details in the IIHS' latest report, which tracks driver fatalities of all cars involved in multi-vehicle collisions, not just individual automobile data. In other words, if a specific car causes more than one fatality when it's involved in a deadly wreck—outside of the driver—the list shows that too.
The IIHS's data is compiled in terms of "deaths per million registered vehicle years, 2020 and equivalent earlier models, [years] 2018-21." The Mirage G4 leads with 205 fatalities, followed by its hatchback variant at 183. In response to the IIHS report, Mitsubishi Motors North America said in a statement that "The Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4 both meet or exceed each and every federal crash-test requirement. Additionally, all Mirage models from 2021 onward include Forward Collision Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection as standard."
Third on the ranking is the Dodge Challenger 2WD at 154, followed by the Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Spark, at 152 and 151, respectively.
The Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Charger are all at the top of the list. The IIHS finds that, even when compared to other cars with equivalent power/weight ratios, muscle cars are especially deadly for their drivers in accidents. The aforementioned 2WD Challenger is also particularly deadly for other drivers involved in collisions. In terms of the highest rates of other-driver deaths, the RWD Dodge comes in second place at 164.
First place on the "other-driver" fatality list is the Ram 3500 Crew Cab long bed 4WD at 189. Several full-size pickups are at the top of this dataset, in fact. Of the top 10 cars most likely to kill another driver in an accident, six are full-size pickups, including the Ram 2500, which according to a study from 2020 is the machine with the highest rate of drivers cited for operating cars under the influence. It's estimated that 1 in 22 Ram 2500 drivers have been cited with DUIs.
The safest cars on the road in terms of low driver fatality rates are overwhelmingly larger and more expensive cars. BMW's X3, the Lexus ES350, Mercedes' E-Class sedan, and the Nissan Pathfinder all recorded 0 deaths per million registered vehicle years. The E-Class and ES350 are the only sedans at the top of the list, with the rest of the vehicles being higher-riding SUVs and crossovers.
The meaning of this data is relatively easy to track. The IIHS President David Harkey says that more expensive vehicles are overwhelmingly safer. “The models that rank among the best and worst performers on both lists point to the unfortunate fact that vehicle cost remains a factor in road safety,” Harkey noted in the Institute's press release. Likewise, he suspects muscle cars are deadlier for their drivers and other motorists because their "marketing may be encouraging more aggressive driving." It's likewise no secret that in a collision between two vehicles, smaller and lighter cars generally offer less protection than larger, heavier ones.
If you want to be safer in a collision in the U.S. where many vehicles are large and heavy, it's best to go with the flow and get one that is large and heavy. This statement has a plethora of implications of course, but that's what the IIHS data suggests.
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