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In September, 2006, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety came out with a report about the safety of various new cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. Data from crash, theft and injury reports show actual safety performance for newer vehicles. According to the vehicle safety report:

The results show that insurance losses for injuries, vehicle damage, and theft vary widely. Vehicle size is strongly related to injury and collision losses, but these losses also vary among vehicles similar in body style and

The report details accident and theft experience by vehicle make and model as submitted to insurance carriers and compiled as follows:

The table inside summarizes the recent insurance injury, collision, and theft losses of passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. Results are based on the loss experience of 2003-05 models from their first sales
through May 2006. For vehicles that were newly introduced or redesigned during these years, the results shown in this publication are based only on the most recent model years for which the vehicle designs were unchanged — either 2004-05 or 2005 only. Results are grouped according to vehicle body style and then according to size. A total of 372 vehicles are listed.

If you are in the market for a new car and want something safe, buy big. Extra-large vehicles performed extremely well in collisions involving injury. Your gas mileage will probably suffer but the bigger the vehicle, the safer it becomes. This report will probably also help if you are trying to find the balance between safety, gas mileage and performance. You will likely get some good suggestions about other smaller vehicles with track records of substantially good safety performance.

Of course, keep in mind that even the safest of cars can kill or injure. Minimizing risk of injuries means driving defensively, wearing your seatbelt, and making sure your child is properly restrained in a car seat.

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