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Speed And Aggressive Driving Are Primary Factors

Dodge Challenger SXT Copart Accident Muscle Car Wreck Collision
Image via Copart

There’s a lot to love about muscle cars, high horsepower, great looks, high horsepower. However, a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recently concluded that the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and Ford Mustang have high fatality rates in the event of an accident. And it’s not so much to do with their crash safety ratings as it does the speed at which collisions are happening.

At this juncture, we at MC&T need to state that we do not condone street racing, street takeovers, lane swimming, or other dangerous driving behaviors that lead to collisions, pedestrian casualties, or worse. The reputation of the muscle car has always been a a controversial one, and any behavior that further paints them in an unfavorable light needs to be disavowed. In short: have fun out there, but carefully and with better judgement.

Muscle Cars High Up In Crash Fatalities,

According to Newsweek, IIHS examined 2020 model year data, comparing death rates against each other, and concluded that sports car drivers are at the highest risk. Meanwhile, drivers of minivans and SUVs have the lowest death rate due to a traffic collision. This type of study is conducted every three years. However, this is the first time IIHS has calculated the best and worst models using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and IHS Markit. For a vehicle to be included in the study, it must have had at least 100,000 registered vehicle years of exposure from 2018 to 2021, or at least 20 deaths.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Photo via Ford

Unsurprisingly, smaller vehicles have a higher death toll than larger ones. Still, the reason muscle cars have a high fatality rate is apparently due to how the vehicles are being driven. For example, Dodge muscle cars have among the highest driver death rates; they are also among the worst performers regarding other-driver deaths due to an accident. IIHS states that this indicates that these vehicles are being driven in an “aggressive manner.”

Based on the conclusion made by IIHS, the inexpensive Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact car has the highest driver death rate of all models at around 200 per 100,000 registrations, depending on trim level. That is followed by the Dodge Challenger with 154 per 100,000 registrations, the Hyundai Accent (152), Chevrolet Spark (151), and Kia Rio (122). The two-wheel drive Charger with a Hemi engine(115), Nissan Altima (113), Chevrolet Camaro convertible (113), Kia Forte (111), and Chevrolet Camaro coupe (110) make up the top ten spots for the listing. Finally, Dodge’s two-wheel drive Charger and the Ford Mustang sit in the 14th and 15th positions on the list behind the Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Sonic, and Hyundai Elantra.

Chevrolet Camaro

Each muscle car comes with an assortment of safety features from the 2020 model year up, but that can only do so much when driving the vehicle at high speeds on public roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash-tested all American muscle cars in the report, with the Ford Mustang earning a five-star crash test rating. At the same time, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Charger received five-star marks in all tests minus the frontal collision category, where they got four out of five. Finally, the Dodge Challenger did the worst with four-star marks in frontal and rollover crash tests but fives in all other categories.

These crash tests took place in 2020, and since then, the standards for tests have adjusted, making it even more difficult for cars to pass. Though, that should incentivize manufacturers to adapt their vehicles, resulting in (hopefully) fewer deaths in the future.

Coincidence or not, the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, and Chevrolet Camaro as we know them are all going away soon. Maybe automakers will bring them back when everybody’s calmed down a bit.

2021 2022 2023 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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