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Most Dangerous Vehicles

KCTV.com posted an interesting article discussing dangerous automobiles.

While the greater likelihood of rollovers make SUVs, vans, and pickups more hazardous in single vehicle crashes, smaller cars have a disadvantage in multi-car accidents.

Keep reading for the full text of the article, entitled "20 Most Dangerous Autos Named: SUVs, Small Autos Increase Risk for Drivers."

Want to stay safe as you navigate the open --or congested -- road? You may want to avoid certain vehicles.

Some cars are considered unsafe because of a lack of safety features, others because young, risky drivers seem to gravitate toward them.

One example of a vehicle that gets a bad rap is the Nissan 350z, because it has a death rate that is nearly double the rate for other sports cars. The reason for this isn't a lack of safety; it's that young, inexperienced and risky drivers are frequently behind the wheel when these cars are involved in fatal crashes.

"When they're in crashes, they're particularly serious ones," said Russ Rader, communications director for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Experts look at side-impact protection, stability control and rollover risk when assessing vehicles in order to predict safety. The 20 most dangerous vehicles compiled here were assessed in this way by Forbes.com.

The vehicle that tops the list could make Tiger Woods blush. The Buick Rendezvous -- Woods is a spokesman for the vehicle -- is ranked as the least safe vehicle available in the U.S. Its followed by other SUVs including Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Jeep Liberty and Nissan Xterra.

"What makes a vehicle unsafe today is a lack of side-impact protection," said Radar. "Whiplash is not a life-threatening injury, but head injuries -- from side impact -- are commonly life-threatening."

Because of this danger, side-curtain bags are mandatory for all 2009 autos. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that these will help reduce fatal head injuries caused by side-impact crashes by 45 percent. This safety measure could potentially save 1,000 lives anually.

Autos need more than just head-protecting airbags. A well-built side structure that can handle an impact from vehicles of different heights is essential for safety. This brings up an important side note: larger vehicles are at an advantage in a crash, especially when the crash involves small, light vehicles like a Toyota Yaris or Chevrolet Cobalt. Other light autos at risk include Suzuki Forenza, Pontiac G5, Toyota Scion tC, Ford Focus, Suzuki Reno, Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rio, Toyota Matrix and Hyundai Accent.

However, those small cars may be at an advantage in another area. Their handling and maneuverability can help avoid an accident if the driver is alert.

"A more nimble, better-handling vehicle is likely going to be easier to control in an emergency and help the driver avoid the dangerous situation," said John Linkov, managing editor of Consumer Reports.

Before you rush out to buy the biggest SUV you can find, it's important to know that SUVs and pickups are at a noticeable disadvantage when involved in single-vehicle accidents -- when the driver swerves to miss an object or animal, or falls asleep behind the wheel. The danger is that these vehicles have an increased -- more than double - chance of rolling over.

In this type of accident, SUVs and pickups have more than double the chance of rolling over, according to NHTSA data. This risk relates closely to overall federal fatality data, showing that SUVs and pickups generally have a higher fatality rate than cars of a similar weight.

Technological advances have been made to help counteract these dangers. Electronic stability control systems, which apply brake pressure where it is most needed to prevent loss of vehicle control, have become more common among non-luxury vehicles. The NHTSA calls this advance "the most significant since the seat belt," and the federal government is requiring that all new cars have the feature, starting in 2012. This mandate is estimated to be able to prevent over 9,000 auto fatalities each year.

"Electronic stability control is one of those rare safety features that's having a dramatic effect on saving lives," said Rader. "Stability control alone can reduce the risk of fatal single-vehicle crashes by 56 percent. And it can reduce fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 80 percent for SUVs, 77 percent for passenger cars."

SUVs and small autos aren't the only vehicles to be wary of.

"Pickups have a rollover problem," said Radar. "They have a high center of gravity and a high propensity to roll over." And making matters worse, "They're the laggards in electronic-stability control," he said. Pickups ranked as most dangerous include Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota.

Any vehicle, even the safest autos on the road, can be dangerous if it's not used as it was intended. Poorly trained drivers can increase the risk.

Information on this report is based on available data by the IIHS, covering 2001 to 2004 models. Some manufacturers have made significant changes and/or redesigns of vehicles.

http://www.kctv5.com/automotive/15856467/detail.html

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