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Do Small Cars Equal Greater Personal Injury Risk?

An insurance industry study released on September 20th showed that small cars, and especially the Toyota Yaris, caused more injury to drivers than other vehicles. The Porsche 911 was ranked the safest car in the study.

The insurance study focused on number of personal injury claims per vehicle between 2009 and 2011, and was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute. On average, personal injury claims were filed 28.5 times for every 1,000 Yaris vehicles insured by the industry.

The Suzuki SX4, a subcompact, had the second highest rate of personal injury claims, at 26.6 claims per 1,000 vehicles. The institute pointed out that the cars with the highest rate of personal injury claims were small cars, which was unsurprising.

“Injury claims data show something that crash test results can’t, and that’s the role that vehicle size plays,” said Kim Hazelbaker, the institute’s senior vice president. “We know that in the real world, if all else is equal, a larger, heavier vehicle does a better job at protecting its occupants than a smaller lighter one. These claim frequencies demonstrate that clearly.”

Small cars have become popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. Most consumers are very concerned about fuel economy in their vehicles, and smaller cars, especially new models, are much more fuel efficient than sedans and SUVs. Also, more SUVs have been recalled by manufacturers, including two recalls from Ford this month. The 2012 Ford Edge and the 2013 Ford Escape were both recalled because of concerns that a faulty fuel line might cause fires.

However, the 2013 Ford Escape, as well as the 2013 Mazda CX-5 sport utility vehicle received four stars in their crash tests.

Another concern for small cars comes from young adults, or the “Millennial” generation. This demographic is apparently more attracted to small cars because they are more fun to drive, seem safer, are packed with technology, and their trendiness makes the group feel more successful.

HLDI did point out that part of the reason for the link between small cars and a rise in personal injury claims could be how the cars are driven. Since smaller cars tend to be higher performance vehicles, they may be more aggressively driven. However, many subcompacts do not have much engine power, so this is not true of many vehicles studied, including the Yaris.

The Chevrolet Silverado, Ford pickup trucks, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Cadillac Escalade were all considered some of the safest cars in the study. Sports cars like the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, and Mercedes Benz SL-Class cars were also in the list of safest vehicles, but the study points out that luxury cars are often bought for recreational use, so their lower rate of personal injury claims might be due to less frequent use.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident caused by a faulty part of your vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand personal injury claims, especially concerning defective products and faulty automobiles. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.



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