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IIHS praises nine models with zero death rates

by Justin King

The list includes a mix of makes and models, ranging from the Subaru Legacy to the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued a report praising nine models with death rates at zero.

The organization cites improved vehicle design and safety technology for a broader decline in fatality risk, measured as the number of deaths per million registered vehicle years.

Looking at 2009-2012 model years, the list of vehicles with the cleanest records includes several luxury offerings, such as the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, though it also shows several more affordable options, including the Kia Sorento and Subaru Legacy.

"This is a huge improvement in just three years, even considering the economy's influence," said IIHS executive VP and chief research officer David Zuby. "We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better. These latest death rates provide new confirmation that real-world outcomes are improving, too."

Unsurprisingly, smaller vehicles tend to bring higher death rates. The Kia Rio sits atop the worst list, with 149 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. Following down the line are the Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Aveo. General Motors held many of the entries, with six Chevrolet models in the top 13 death rates.

Despite the handful of bad apples, the researchers suggest there were 7,700 fewer driver deaths in 2012 alone than there would have been if vehicles remained unchanged from their 1985 models.

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