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GM's Chevrolet Blazer Has Highest Crash-Death Risk, Group Says

Mar 15, 2005 | Bloomberg

General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Blazer sport-utility vehicle had the highest crash-death rate for drivers in an insurer group's study of 199 vehicles, and DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes E-class car had the lowest.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety computed the fatality rate per million vehicles from 2000 to 2003 for cars and trucks from the 1999 through 2002 model years. The two-wheel- drive, two-door Blazer's score was 308, more than triple the average of 87. The rate for the E-class was 10.

``Pound for pound across vehicle types, cars almost always have lower death rates than either pickups or SUVs,'' Adrian Lund, the Arlington, Virginia-based group's chief operating officer, said today. ``This generally is because the SUVs and pickups have much higher death rates in single-vehicle rollover crashes.''

The study, the first of its kind by the group since 2000, found that vehicle weight was closely related to death risk and that the risk varied within each vehicle type. For example, the Blazer model's score was 25 times higher that that of Toyota Motor Corp.'s 4Runner, another midsize SUV.

General Motors said in a statement that the crash-death rate for a car or truck involves more than just the vehicle.

``It's impossible in looking at these statistics to know what role driver behavior, such as drunk driving and driving without a safety belt, played in these deaths,'' the Detroit- based company said.

``It is also essential to know how and where a vehicle was used. Trucks typically are driven at least 50 percent more miles a year than passenger cars and often on secondary roads where more rollover crashes occur, so the pattern of use is much more important than a given design,'' GM also said.

Vehicle Categories

Among vehicle categories, the smallest two-door cars had the highest rate, at 190. Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s Mirage sedan had the second-highest rate among all cars and trucks, at 209. Large luxury models such as the Mercedes E-class fared best among cars with 37 deaths per million vehicles.

For minivans, larger models such as Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury Villager had a combined rating of 42, compared with 65 for smaller vans.

Among other light trucks, small pickups such as Chevrolet's S-10 had the highest rate, at 124. Large SUVs such as the Ford Expedition had the lowest rate, at 52.

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