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Is Your Car Too Small To Be Safe?

So if the smaller car in a collision is more likely to get the worst of things, why do the data suggest the opposite -- that you're sometimes more likely to hurt someone when you're behind the wheel of a little car?

One possibility is simply that people are using smaller cars differently than they do larger ones. For instance, people may tend to drive faster in small cars. Or, it may be the drivers themselves: Small cars tend to be chosen by younger, inexperienced drivers who will have high crash rates no matter what car they're in.

Moore suggests another possibility: "Bodily injury pays for injuries caused to pedestrians as well as [people in] vehicles," he notes. "The smaller the car is, the more likely the vehicle is owned and operated in an urban area."

And in urban areas, you're more likely to be dealing with pedestrians. Compare car insurance rates for urban and rural areas, and you'll likely see this increased danger reflected in the premiums (among other urban risk factors).

One thing is for sure: The cars most likely to do damage to someone else's vehicle or property tend to be larger pickups and SUVs, as you might expect. They have the highest levels of property damage liability claims. The top offenders are the Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Tahoe and Toyota Tundra.

The worst cars for Personal Injury Protection  claims

2009-2011 models with the highest claim frequencies for personal injury protection:

Toyota Yaris, mini four-door car: 201

Suzuki SX4, small four-door car: 187

Chevrolet Aveo, mini four-door car: 183

Mitsubishi Galant, midsize four-door car: 179

Kia Rio Mini, four-door car: 175

Hyundai Accent, mini four-door car: 173

Nissan Versa, small four-door car: 173

Dodge Avenger, midsize four-door car: 167

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