It turns out those people who claim that driving a big car is safer were, well… kind of right.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found a strong correlation between the size of your vehicle and your odds of surviving a serious crash or impact.

The IIHS study ranked every 2017 model year vehicle sold in the United States by deaths due to collisions. It found that small minicars made up 75% of the 20 models with the highest death rates. Conversely, almost half of the 20 vehicles with the lowest fatality rates were luxury SUVs. Drivers of small cars are killed in crashes more than five times as often as drivers of large SUVs, according to the IIHS.

“Smaller vehicles offer less protection for the driver in crashes, and their lighter mass means that they take the brunt of collisions with larger vehicles,” commented the IIHS in a news release.

From the 1970s to the 2000s, the IIHS observed a constant decline in road deaths of all kinds. However, that trend has reversed itself over the past decade. For 2011 model year vehicles, there was an average of 28 deaths per million collisions, and for 2014 models, the number climbed to 30. Now, for 2017 models, the number stands at 36 deaths per million crashes.

There has also been an increase in pedestrian deaths in the U.S. since 2010. The rise in deaths has been attributed to the size of large vehicles, notably pick-up trucks and SUVs, that are manufactured today. There are other factors, of course. Distracted driving has risen to all-time highs. In some cases, advanced safety tech may cause drivers to pay less attention to their actions. They feel like their vehicle will warn them of any potential danger.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.