As economy recovers, driver death rate rises slightly
One downside of an improving economy is that as people drive more, the accident and death rate from driving increases. That has been the case in this recovery, though the risk of dying in a car crash has gone up only slightly, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
People drive more as unemployment goes down. Discretionary driving also increases, as consumers have the money to go out to dinner or to entertainment, or to drive on a vacation. Interestingly, IIHS says economic conditions also affect how fast people drive.
There has been some improvement in vehicle safety since the last IIHS study. But those improvements are not enough to bring down the accident rate on their own.
Improvements in vehicle technology are important, but we also need to address old problems such as speeding and driving while impaired, said Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services.
The driver death rates show that the smallest vehicles are the most dangerous. Among the 10 vehicles with the highest death rates, five are minicars and three are small cars.
The top five 2014 models with the fewest accidents are the Audi A6 4WD, Audi Q7 4WD, BMW 535i/is 2WD, BMW 535xi 4WD and Jeep Cherokee 4WD. The models with the most driver deaths per million miles are the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Scion tC, Chevrolet Spark and Nissan Versa.Download Bulletin PDF