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Insurance data reveals that larger vehicles are safer

Motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities have increased sharply in South Carolina and around the country in recent years despite significant advances in automobile safety features and systems. Auto insurance rates are based on risk, and insurers use the results of federal crash tests and records kept by the Highway Loss Data Institute to set premiums and determine the effectiveness of vehicle safety systems.

Modern cars, trucks and SUVs protect their occupants with up to 10 airbags, and many luxury models feature autonomous electronic systems that take over in emergency situations to avoid a crash. However, even the most effective safety features cannot overcome the laws of physics. Larger and heavier vehicles provide more protection in a crash, and the HLDI figures reveal that the occupants of small sedans are twice as likely to submit medical payment claims. Very large pickup trucks have the lowest number of medical payment claims according to the HLDI.

Sports car drivers are often portrayed as a hazard to other road users, but performance models such as the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 have very low insurance claim rates. According to the HLDI, 7 of the 10 vehicles with the lowest number of personal injury claims are sports cars. Experts say that this is because sports cars may be used less frequently than more utilitarian vehicles and often carry only a single passenger.

In addition to monitoring road conditions and anticipating hazards, modern automobiles gather and store large amounts of data. Black box-type devices could reveal how fast the vehicles involved in a car accident were traveling and whether their drivers took any evasive action. This information might be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish liability in court or encourage negligent motorists or their insurance companies to settle lawsuits quickly.

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