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The 10 most dangerous cars in the US
A blue Honda Accord sits in a car dealership.
Technologies like anti-lock brakes and regular crash testing have brought vehicle safety far forward compared to previous decades. But, despite all these advances, accidents still happen, and people die as a result. It’s a sobering fact that every car shopper should consider when looking for a new ride. With this in mind, CoPilot explores the most dangerous cars. It’s an effort that starts with looking at what vehicles are the most involved in fatal crashes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, tracks this information. And the financial website ValuePenguin drilled into the data to uncover surprising results. In addition, we’re also pulling data from AutoInsurance.org for their study on fatal crashes between 2017 and 2019.
In short, some of America’s top cars are the most likely to be involved in fatal accidents, including those affecting the occupants of these vehicles. In other words, fatalities can happen to those inside and outside these automobiles.
The analysis of NHTSA research covered fatal crashes for cars, SUVs, and trucks from the 2014-2018 model years. It’s important to note that advanced safety systems, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and blind-spot monitoring, weren’t standard equipment on many vehicles from this period. For example, AEB became standard on every Ford F-150 in 2020.
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Trucks lead for most dangerous vehicles in the US
Several Ford F-Series trucks are parked side by side.
#1. Ford F-Series (F-150, F-250, F-350)
- Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 10,845
- Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.46
- 2018 Unit Sales: 909,330
The F-150 is the most popular vehicle of any kind in the U.S., a distinction it’s held for many years. But along with its stablemates, the larger F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks, the F-150 accounts for more fatal accidents than anything else on the road. Between 2017-2019, the F-150 alone has the most number of fatal crashes in five states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah. No wonder it tops the list of the most dangerous cars.
#2. Chevrolet Silverado
- Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 7,718
- Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.47
- 2018 Unit Sales: 585,581
The Silverado has consistently taken a back seat to the Ford F-Series in terms of sales, and the same can be said regarding fatal crashes. Curiously, the Silverado led to more fatal accidents in Arkansas and Vermont than with any other vehicle. On a related note, according to the study by AutoInsurance.org, the Silverado has the distinction as the most accident-prone vehicle in 30 states, compared to Ford in only five states.
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Here’s the rest of the top 10 most dangerous vehicles
A black Toyota Corolla is parked in front of a line of trees.
#3. Honda Accord
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 5,079
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.65
– 2018 Unit Sales: 291,071
It’s not all about pickups when it comes to fatal accidents, as the ever-popular Honda Accord ranks as the third-deadliest vehicle on the list and the worst passenger car when it comes to vehicle fatalities. Even though Ford sells about three times more F-Series vehicles than Honda does Accords, the Accord’s accident data shows 0.65 occupants are killed in fatal accidents involving this vehicle. That’s almost 50% higher than the F-Series. Lastly, the Honda Accord is the deadliest vehicle in six states between 2017-2019, including Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.
#4. Toyota Camry
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 4,734
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.59
– 2018 Unit Sales: 343,439
Toyota takes pride that its midsized Camry sedan outsells archrival Honda’s Accord. The automaker is likely happy that crash data shows fewer people (0.59) die in Camry fatal accidents than in Accord (0.65). In 2017-2019, the Camry scored the most fatal accidents in Massachusetts.
#5. RAM Pickup (1500, 2500, and 3500)
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 5,897
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.43
– 2018 Unit Sales: 536,980
While the RAM (formerly Dodge) pickup is involved in a high number of fatal accidents (5.897) during the study period, it has the lowest number of occupant fatalities (0.43) among the most dangerous cars. Based on AutoInsurance.org’s study, the Dodge RAM pickup is the most accident-prone in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming.
#6. Honda Civic
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 3,497
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.70
– 2018 Unit Sales: 325,760
The Civic has the dishonor of being the deadliest vehicle on this list of the 10 most dangerous cars. A fatality rate of 0.70 occupants per deadly accident exceeds the RAM pickup by more than 60%; the Ford Mustang only surpasses it at 0.71 occupant deaths. Between 2017-2019, there were more fatal accidents with a Civic in California and Vermont than any other vehicle in that state.
#7. Toyota Corolla
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 3,430
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.64
– 2018 Unit Sales: 303,732
Toyota has sold more than 50,000,000 Corollas globally since the model debuted in 1966. So, given the popularity of this compact car, it’s no surprise to find a Corolla on this list—there are so many on the road. And like the Civic, the Corolla has a high fatality rate (0.64), which stems from its smallish size.
#8. Ford Explorer
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 3,332
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.61
– 2018 Unit Sales: 261,571
Despite the abundance of SUVs in the marketplace, there’s only one on our list; the Ford Explorer. The vehicle is no stranger to hazardous situations following the Firestone tire debacle from the 1990s that led to more than 1,000 deaths and injuries. Interestingly, despite it being a larger vehicle, the Explorer’s fatality rate (0.61) approaches that of smaller cars.
#9. Nissan Altima
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 3,267
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.60
– 2018 Unit Sales: 209,146
The Nissan Altima remains a worthy competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with comparable features and equipment. It is also similar to these rivals regarding an occupant fatality rate of 0.60, which slots between the Camry and Accord.
#10. GMC Sierra
– Total Fatal Crashes (2014-2018): 3,245
– Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash: 0.48
– 2018 Unit Sales: 219,554
The final entry on our list of the 10 most dangerous cars caps off with the GMC Sierra pickup, a clone of its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado. Between 2017-2019, the Sierra used to be responsible for more fatalities in Maine but was recently eclipsed by the Chevy Silverado.