By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — Don’t get in a traffic accident in a tiny Toyota Yaris. It has the most injuries per crash of any vehicle, according to an insurance industry study.
The Highway Loss Data Institute looked at insurance data for model year 2009 through 2011 vehicles and found Yaris occupants filed personal injury claims 28.5 times for every 1,000 of the vehicles the industry insured.
That’s more than any other vehicle on the road and compares to the Porsche 911, which had the best rate — only 4.5 injury claims for every 1,000 of the fancy sports car.
“Toyota is committed to achieving the highest standards for safety and is proud of its industry-leading 18 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, including the Yaris, named 2012 ‘Top Safety Picks’ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,” Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.
The institute said its research demonstrated that the vehicles with the highest injury claims tend to be small cars and are an important supplement to the crash tests conducted by federal safety regulators and the insurance industry.
“Injury claims data show something that crash test results can’t, and that’s the role that vehicle size plays,” said Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. “In most crash tests, the advantage of greater size and weight is masked by using a fixed barrier (in a test). As a result, crash test results are comparable only among similar vehicles.”
These numbers demonstrate which vehicles’ occupants are the most likely to be injured in when it comes to real crashes, the institute said.
“We know that in the real world, if all else is equal, a larger, heavier vehicle does a better job protecting occupants than a smaller, lighter one,” Hazelbaker said.
The Suzuki SX4, a small crossover, had the second-highest risk of injury to its occupants, posting 26.6 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years.
Other vehicles that scored poorly by the institute’s measurement included the Chevrolet Aveo, Mitsubishi Galant, Kia Rio, Nissan’s Versa and Sentra, Hyundai Accent and the Dodge Avenger.
“There are many factors that can influence claim rate and we will study the results to determine if the data can provide us with useful information for future safety developments,” Nissan, which had two cars on the list of the worst 10, said in a statement.
“Nissan has a longstanding commitment to safety and innovation and continues to explore enhancements to safety technology even beyond conventional safety technologies. We believe that the Nissan Sentra and Versa provide excellent crash protection and safety to its occupants in the real world,” the automaker said.
Vehicles that scored well included the Chevrolet Corvette and Silverado, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz SL-class convertible, Ford F-150, Land Rover Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade.
The institute also looked at the vehicles that suffered the highest dollar amount of physical damage in a crash.
Not surprisingly, the $200,000 Ferrari California fared the worst. Although there were just 2.6 claims per every 100 of the Ferraris, each claim averaged $82,112. That was five times the second-worst vehicle, the Maserati Granturismo, which suffered an average $16,150 of damage in a collision.
Expensive cars topped the list, but the institute also looked at the results for vehicles that are priced under $30,000. The four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer ranked poorly both in claims frequency and the amount of damage inflicted per incident. The Lancer had 11.3 claims per 100 Lancers, averaging $6,221.
Other vehicles that had high claims and losses were the Hyundai Genesis coupe, the Suzuki Kizashi four-wheel drive sedan and the Subaru Impreza WRX.
“For consumers concerned about insurance premiums, this information is key,” Hazelbaker said. “A lot of things go into your premium — your age, place of residence, driving record, sometimes even your credit history. The kind of vehicle you buy is the one factor that a consumer can control in the short term.”