Study: Smart Fortwo as Safe as Large Cars, SUVs; Sporty Cars Get Into More Accidents

By Joel Arellano | September 20, 2012
The Highway Loss Data Institute is a little-known but vital affiliate to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The HLDI monitors insurance claims made by car owners involved in accidents as well as other forms of damage to their vehicle (e.g., theft). In the HLDI's most recently released study on vehicular collisions, it reinforces the perception that larger vehicles continue to be safer than smaller ones, with one surprising exception. The HLDI study also reinforces the cliché that sports car drivers are more accident prone, including sporty models of otherwise pedestrian cars, such as the Hyundai Genesis coupe.
Large vehicles dominate the HLDI's top ten list for lowest collision rates. The Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV stands tall at number one, followed by the Jeep Wrangler two-door mid-size SUV, Toyota FJ Cruiser, GMC Canyon pickup truck, then the Wranger again (four-door models this time). The Smart Fortwo minicar holds the seventh and eighth position in the HLDI's list with its coupe and convertible trims, respectively. Smart has long advocated the safety features of its Fortwo, especially the so-called "Tridion" safety cell encompassing passengers. The HLDI data backs it up.
The Chevy Colorado pickup truck and the Chrysler 200 sedan round out the last two positions respectively.
It's not surprising the Ferrari California holds position numero uno as the most costly vehicle to pay out when involved in a collision. Same with the Maserati Granturismo as number two. But these two vehicles -- plus the rest on the list -- are beyond the means of most car owners. In a second list covering vehicles under $30,000, the Mitsubishi Lancer is number one in cost to repair, thanks to its high-performance Evo model. Hyundai's Genesis coupe is second and followed by the Suzuki Kizashi. The Lancer, again, appears as number four, followed by the Subaru Impreza WRX; Mazda RX-8; Honda Civic Si coupe; Nissan Altima coupe; Honda Civic coupe; and ended by the Honda Civic Si sedan. HLDI concludes the nature of such sporty vehicles practically selects a particular buyers prone to collisions. States Kim Hazelbaker, senior VP of HLDI, "Naturally, expensive cars cost more to fix, which is why they have such high collision losses. Meanwhile, cars marketed for their powerful engines tend to crash more often, a phenomenon partly explained by the type of drivers they attract and by the style of driving they lend themselves to."'s take: What do you think of the HLDI's study? The Smart Fortwo exception aside, passengers will suffer less chance of injury in a larger vehicle than a smaller. It's a matter of physics. That law of nature also applies to sporty cars: the faster the vehicle, the greater chance of a collision. Just because a vehicle can move quickly doesn't mean you should drive it quickly. Source: HLDI