Is Your Car Too Small To Be Safe?

New data suggest that the biggest menaces on the road aren't oversized SUVs, but tiny cars like the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent. Several small cars are among the 10 makes and models found to be the most dangerous to other drivers on the road, but the data may not be as disturbing to small-car owners as it initially appears.

The new data come from "Insurance losses by make and model," a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. The institutes analyzed claims data for model years 2009 through 2011 to determine which cars are involved in the most insurance claims.

Categories considered by the organizations include personal injury protection (injury to drivers and their passengers), bodily injury liability (injuries to other cars' drivers and their passengers) and collisions. Models were ranked by how frequently they were involved in such claims.

Sports car stats hide the truth

As one might expect, many of the cars with the lowest rates of personal injury claims are large vehicles like the Chevy Silverado and the Land Rover Range Rover, which presumably provide good protection to drivers and passengers in the event of a crash.

But less easily explained are the two cars with the lowest rates of personal injury claims. Drivers of the Porsche 911 are 68 percent less likely than average to have a personal injury claim. Drivers of the Chevrolet Corvette are 62 percent less likely.

Such midsized cars are comparatively smaller than the hulking pickups and SUVs that populate the rest of the list, so it's unlikely that they would provide even greater protection in crashes. And it's also hard to believe that people driving sports cars are more careful drivers than the general population. If anything, you'd expect them to drive faster than the average car owner.