Bigger, Heavier Vehicles Are Safer in Crashes: Study

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

A recent study aims to debunk the validity of crash tests.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo conducted a study using a different methodology to evaluate the safety of vehicles, other than the standard industry ratings and found that cars with a five-star safety rating might not necessarily be the safest vehicles on the road.

“One of my pet peeves is that I don’t think consumers have very good information about vehicle safety,” said Dietrich Jehle, MD, professor of emergency medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Neither media advertising nor the five-star safety ratings accurately reflect the level of danger or lack of danger in vehicles.”

The study looked at personal injury claims data as an indicator of vehicle safety in the 17 states that have no-fault insurance. By looking at the frequency of personal injury claims for specific vehicles, the researchers conducted a retrospective study of 360 vehicle models from 2010-2012.

SEE ALSO: Car Crashes Spike When Home Team Loses: Study

The vehicles with the lowest frequency of personal injury claims were large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, including the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, Range Rover, Volvo XC60, Audi A6, Toyota Tacoma and Cadillac Escalade. Vehicles that had the highest frequency of personal injury claims include numerous compact cars: Kia Forte, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Sentra, Dodge Caliber, Scion tC, Nissan Versa hatchback, Chrysler 200, Nissan Rogue and Ford Fiesta.

“We found that vehicle type, curb weight and price are all significant predictors of personal injury cost,” Jehle said. “For every additional $10,000 you spend, injuries go down by almost 12 percent. We also found that for every 1,000-pound increase in weight, vehicles were 19 percent safer.”

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • Vitold Rta Vitold Rta on Jul 14, 2015

    One more thing, if pickup driver died in an accident he/she would not have filed personal injury claim....while this 'study' uses personal injury claim stats to find their safest vehicles.

    • See 2 previous
    • DoubleCoppers DoubleCoppers on Jul 15, 2015

      Most people consider death to be a serious personal injury, but you separate them? Nothing in the reports of the study say the HLDI data excludes deaths.. You do know what happens when you assume, right?

  • Pete Flynn Pete Flynn on Jul 16, 2015

    Dang! I missed buying that H2 with the extra 800lbs of nerf bars and skid plates. Maybe I can get a surplus military Hummer?