WASHINGTON (AP) — The chances of dying in a crash in a late-model car or light truck fell by more than a third over three years, and nine car models had zero deaths per million registered vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Improved vehicle designs and safety technology have a lot to do with the reduced risk, but a weak economy that led to reductions in driving may also have played a role, the institute said.
The study, which examined fatalities involving 2011 model year vehicles, looked at how many driver fatalities occurred in a particular model over the course of a year of operation, expressed as a rate per million registered vehicle years.
It found there was an average of 28 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years through the 2012 calendar year, down from 48 deaths for 2008 models through 2009.
When the institute looked at the issue eight years ago, there were no models with driver death rates of zero.
David Zuby, the institute’s chief research officer, called it “a huge improvement,” even considering the effect of a weak economy. “We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better. These latest death rates provide new confirmation that real-world outcomes are improving too.”