American “muscle cars” may turn heads and go fast, but they rank among the deadliest on the road according to a new report out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Six of the 21 vehicles with the highest driver-death rates are American muscle cars. All of them have high horsepower and are popular with car enthusiasts.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) looked at federal data on 2020 model vehicles. The Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang all made the list of vehicles with the highest rate of driver deaths.
Small or mini cars also have a high death rate, including the Mitsubishi Mirage, Hyundai Accent, Chevy Spark and Kia Rio.
IIHS researchers say smaller cars have always made the list for having a high driver-death rate because of their size, but muscle cars haven’t made the list since the 1990s.
“We think it’s the drivers. These types of vehicles are marketed as having very powerful engines, as having quick acceleration, as being able to go really high speeds, and I think that is encouraging their drivers to actually go at those high speeds, to drive in a risky way,” said IIHS Vice President of Research Chuck Farmer.
And so some of these muscle cars may have good safety ratings, but a higher driver-death rate, simply because of the way they are driven.
“Yes,” said Farmer.
As for the vehicles with the lowest rate of driver deaths, the BMW X3 SUV, the Lexus ES 350, the Mercedes E Class and the Nissan Pathfinder took the top spots.
And it’s not just horsepower that impacts a vehicle’s driver-death rate. Several of the luxury vehicles with the lowest driver-death rates are just as fast as the muscle cars, but the IIHS expert we spoke to says it may be a case of image. Muscle cars are often associated with speed, while luxury cars are synonymous with ease and comfort.