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Study: Small cars are more dangerous on the road

Posted at 4:27 AM, May 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-30 07:18:45-04
Is the car you're driving safe? A new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety says it depends on the size. The study also says nationwide, crashes are up. 
 
"An increase in traffic deaths is a predictable downside to an improving economy. As unemployment falls, both vehicle miles traveled and crash deaths increase. In a stronger economy, people tend to drive more. Riskier, discretionary driving — for example, going out to dinner or traveling for vacation — is affected by economic fluctuations even more than day-to-day commuting. Economic conditions also affect how fast people drive," the study said.
 
Nathan Rigney, who lives in Pinellas County, is on his second Hyundai Elantra after the first one was totaled. 
 
"The car was crushed so bad that you couldn't even imagine somebody walking out of it."
 
Rigney says the car saved his life, "without a doubt, absolutely," he said. Rigney escaped with minor injuries. "Call it luck, or call it the car but it's something I feel comfortable getting behind the wheel of."
 
Rigney's car didn't make the list for most dangerous on the road - but the 2014 Hyundai Accent topped it with a death rate of 104. The Kia Rio, Scion tC, Chevrolet Spark, and Nissan Versa made the list too -all of which are categorized as mini, or small cars. The top 5 BEST were large luxury cars and SUV's.
 
"The smaller cars, they are microwaves on wheels," said Rigney. he looked at the Hyundai Accent, sat in one too but never test drove it. "I don't feel safe or comfortable in - that would not be anywhere near something I wouldn't consider, to be honest with you."
 
Even still, those smaller cars are slowly getting safer. According to the study, the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio saw fewer deaths after both cars were redesigned in 2012 - which may reflect the better crash test performance on the newer designs. 
 
"Vehicles continue to improve, performing better and better in crash tests," says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president, and chief research officer. "The latest driver death rates show there is a limit to how much these changes can accomplish without other kinds of efforts."