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Points to consider about vehicle safety

The car you drive can have a big impact on how you fare when you are in a crash. Car manufacturers know that the American driver is more conscious than ever about vehicle safety ratings. Many have focused their engineering efforts over the years on improving safety, but many makes and models are still not as safe as they could be. Even if you aren't in the market for a new car, you can still use this information to help you learn about the possible hazards you face while you are driving.

It probably doesn't come as a shock that smaller vehicles are considered less safe than larger vehicles. The difference in fatality rates between mini-cars and large luxury SUVs might be greater than what you realize. Here are some things you need to know about the safety of vehicles according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

Fatality rate based on vehicle size

The fatality rate calculated by the IIHS is based on the number of driver fatalities per 1 million registered vehicles. In order to be considered in the tests, there had to be at least 100,000 registered vehicles of that model. Year models from 2012 to 2015 were the only ones considered in the study.

The death rate was highest among minicars with four doors. Those vehicles had a fatality rate of 87. Large luxury SUVs with four wheel drive have a death rate of only six. That is a difference of 81 fatalities per 1 million vehicles.

Manufacturer (Make) also matters

When you consider the death rate based on the type of vehicle, it is apparent that there are some types that are safer than others. Out of the 10 vehicles with the most fatalities, five are hatchback versions. Three on that list are small sedans.

Looking at the list of vehicles with the lowest driver fatality rates shows that large luxury SUVs and cars are the safest. One reason for this is that the larger vehicles are better able to absorb the impact that occurs with crashes.

Cars like the Ford Mustang, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent hatchback, Chrysler 200, Dodge Challenger and Volkswagen Golf were all on the list of the 20 unsafest vehicles in the country.

Interestingly, the Nissan Titan Crew Cab short bed 4-wheel drive is also on the most unsafe list with a fatality rate of 73. The Kia Soul is also on the list with a death rate of 82.

While driving a safer car won't stop accidents from occurring, it might help to avoid being killed or catastrophically injured if another vehicle slams into you.

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