Auto Insurance

Top 20 Deadliest Vehicles in the United States — and Those That Kill Occupants the Most

Top 20 Deadliest Vehicles in the United States — and Those That Kill Occupants the Most

Millions of Americans drive their cars safely each day, but the fact of the matter is that deadly accidents do occur regularly — and they happen more often in some cars than others. ValuePenguin analyzed fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find which cars, trucks and SUVs are most likely to be in fatal crashes.
Pickup truck in a crash
Pickup truck in a crash Source: Getty Images

The Ford F-Series pickup is the most dangerous vehicle in America. The top-selling pickup was involved in over 10,000 crashes over our 5-year study period. But other popular vehicles like the Silverado, Accord and Camry aren't far behind.

Key takeaways:

The most dangerous car, truck and SUV models on the road

1. Ford F-Series

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 10,845
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 909,330
  • Average price to insure: $2,471

The Ford F-Series (including the F-150 and its bigger siblings the F-250 and F-350) was involved in more fatal accidents over the course of our study than any other car, truck or SUV. The vast majority were for the most popular F-150 model, which accounted for 65% of all fatal F-Series crashes. The F-Series is also the most popular truck in America, having sold nearly a million units in 2018, which may partly explain why it's involved in so many fatal crashes. However, the frequency of fatal crashes doesn't seem to affect the cost to insure these trucks: We found that the Ford F-Series is the fourth-cheapest vehicle to insure in America.


2. Chevrolet Silverado

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 7,718
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 585,581
  • Average price to insure: $3,057

The Chevrolet Silverado, another large pickup truck, was the second-most deadly vehicle nationwide: It was involved in 7,718 fatal crashes. The current Silverado is over 75 inches tall, making it among the tallest vehicles on the road, which may account for some of the reason it's in so many accidents. The Silverado is involved in fatal crashes particularly often in Arkansas and Vermont — it's the deadliest car in those states.

The Silverado also seems to be involved in more accidents over time. There were 1,653 Silverados involved in fatal accidents in 2018, while only 1,326 were in fatal crashes in 2014.


3. Honda Accord

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 5,079
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 291,071
  • Average price to insure: $3,042

Honda's popular sedan is the third-deadliest vehicle overall, and the most dangerous passenger car: 5,079 Accords were involved in fatal crashes over the course of our study. It was also comparatively more dangerous for the occupants as opposed to others outside of the car, as 0.70 occupants were killed per fatal crash (the average among the top 20 vehicles is 0.59). The only car with a higher score was the ultra-fast Ford Mustang, which had 0.71 killed occupants per crash. It's also the most deadly vehicle overall in New Jersey, with 117 crashes there over the study period.


4. Toyota Camry

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 4,734
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 343,439
  • Average price to insure: $3,036

The Toyota Camry, the most popular sedan in the United States, is the fourth-most deadly car. It was involved in 4,734 crashes over our study period. However, the Camry consistently sells more cars than its top competitor, the Honda Accord. This suggests that it's less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than the Accord. The Camry also has slightly fewer occupants killed per crash — 0.59, compared to the Accord's 0.65. These benefits translated into slightly lower insurance costs. We found that the average price to insure a Camry was about $6 less per year.


5. Ram pickup (all models)

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 5,897
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 536,980
  • Average price to insure: $2,998

The Ram pickup (formerly the Dodge Ram) was yet another popular pickup truck with a high rate of involvement in fatal crashes. However, the Ram was the vehicle least likely overall to kill its occupants — only 0.43 Ram occupants were killed per crash.

The 2001 model year of the Ram tended to be involved in the most fatal crashes during our study period. As many as 416,2001 Ram pickups were involved in fatal crashes.

6. Honda Civic

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 4,397
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 325,760
  • Average price to insure: $3,042

7. Toyota Corolla

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 3,430
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 303,732
  • Average price to insure: $3,164

8. Ford Explorer

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 3,332
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 261,571
  • Average price to insure: $3,587

9. Nissan Altima

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 3,267
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 209,146
  • Average price to insure: $3,269

10. GMC Sierra

  • Fatal crashes over study period: 3,245
  • Vehicles sold in 2018: 219,554
  • Average price to insure: $2,937

The top 20 deadliest cars: the full list

Here's the full list of the 20 most deadly cars, trucks and SUVs in America. Of note: The Ford Ranger and Chevrolet GMT-400 both made the list despite not being manufactured during our study period of 2014–2018. The GMT-400 has been off the market since 1998, which makes its inclusion particularly troubling.

Occupants of the Ford Mustang are most likely to be killed among the cars, trucks and SUVs we looked at. An average of 0.71 occupants are killed per fatal crash it's involved in. The Ram pickup has the fewest, at just 0.43 occupant deaths per fatal crash.

RankMakeModelTotal fatal crashesUnits sold in 2018Occupants killed per vehicle in a fatal crash
1FordF-Series10,845909,3300.46
2ChevroletSilverado7,718585,5810.47
3HondaAccord5,079291,0710.65
4ToyotaCamry4,734343,4390.59
5RamPickup5,897536,9800.43
6HondaCivic4,397325,7600.70
7ToyotaCorolla3,430303,7320.64
8FordExplorer3,332261,5710.61
9NissanAltima3,267209,1460.60
10GMCSierra3,245219,5540.48
11ChevroletImpala2,80456,5560.68
12FordRanger2,476Not sold in 20180.68
13ChevroletMalibu2,345144,5420.64
14JeepGrand Cherokee2,304224,9080.52
15FordFocus2,256114,0450.68
16ChevroletTahoe2,113104,1520.50
17FordMustang1,96375,8420.71
18FordTaurus1,91340,3410.70
19ChevroletGmt-4001,851Not sold in 20180.63
20ToyotaTacoma1,763245,6590.54
21FordEscape1,700272,2280.52
22NissanSentra1,561213,0460.67
23FordFusion1,550173,6000.53
24HondaCr-V1,526379,0130.53
25JeepWrangler1,513240,0320.51

State-by-state: Which vehicles are in the most fatal crashes where you live?

We found that the deadliest cars per state tended to match up with the national trend: In 40 states, the F-Series accounts for the greatest proportion of deaths. However, in the densely populated Northeast, other cars proliferated: The Toyota Camry had the most fatalities in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. And the Honda was the most deadly car in California.

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Passenger cars account for the most fatal crashes, but motorcyclists are most likely to be killed in a crash, by far

Despite the most deadly individual models being largely pickups and SUVs, cars are still involved in more crashes than any other type of passenger vehicle. A total of 100,388 passenger cars were involved in fatal crashes over the course of our study. Pickups and SUVs are involved in approximately equal numbers of fatal crashes — 42,774, and 41,207, respectively. Minivans were in just 11,006 fatal crashes.

Bar graph comparing how often cars, SUVs and other vehicles are involved in fatal crashes
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Though motorcycles were involved in a comparatively small number of fatal crashes — 25,803 total — they are vastly overrepresented when controlling for the number of vehicles on the road. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 8.7 million motorcycles on the road out of 273.6 million total. That means that motorcycles account for just 3% of vehicles but are involved in 10% of fatal crashes.

Furthermore, the typical number of motorcycle occupants killed per crash is a staggering 0.98. This means that if a motorcyclist is involved in a fatal crash, it's the motorcyclist or their passenger who is killed nearly every time.

Conversely, bus riders are very unlikely to be killed in a crash. Despite the fact that buses can carry a lot of people, the typical bus-involved fatal crash has just 0.20 occupant fatalities. This means that at least 80% of the time, no one on the bus is killed at all.

Bar graph showing how many occupants are killed per vehicle in a fatal crash
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Despite the most deadly individual models being largely pickups and SUVs, cars are still involved in more crashes than any other type of passenger vehicle.

Cars between 10 and 15 years old are involved in the most fatal crashes

Over the course of our study, we found that the vehicles most commonly involved in fatal crashes were those between 10 and 15 years old — that is, the 2003–2008 model years. Cars from the 2005 model year were most often involved in fatal crashes, with newer models seeing a significant decline.

One major factor that may contribute to this decline is improved safety. Car manufacturers continue to improve safety standards like collision avoidance technology. And backup cameras have become increasingly more common, as well; they've been mandatory in U.S. cars since 2018. These features may help reduce the incidence of fatal crashes on American roads.

It's worth noting that some of the decrease in fatal crashes in newer models is due to sales trends: Car sales dropped significantly during and after the 2008 recession, and the very newest models weren't available for purchase during the earlier years of our study. The median age of cars in the U.S. as of 2018 was 11.9 years.

If you're involved in a fatal accident, a robust insurance policy will help protect you and your family financially

No one ever wants to be involved in a fatal car crash, but a strong car insurance policy will keep you and your family financially secure.

There are two main parts of car insurance that pertain directly to fatal accidents: personal injury protection/medical payments coverage and liability coverage.

Personal injury protection (PIP) and its close sibling medical payments (MedPay) coverages both cover medical expenses if you or a passenger is injured in a car crash. However, these coverages also pay for funeral expenses if you are killed. These coverages are what determine if your state is no-fault or not, so whether they are required or optional in your state will vary.

Liability coverage pays for financial damages to other parties in car accidents if you are at fault. It pays for medical costs, lost wages and other expenses, including monetary damage.

To further protect yourself from a liability claim should you be in a fatal crash, you might consider an umbrella insurance policy. These are sold separately from your auto insurance policy and provide extra protection in a variety of areas, including when you're behind the wheel of a car. Umbrella insurance policies are not very expensive and are particularly worth considering if you have high net worth or spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

Even though liability insurance is required nearly nationwide, there's always a chance a person you get into a crash with has let their insurance expire. You can protect yourself against this situation by adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to your insurance policy.

Methodology

ValuePenguin collected data from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to determine which vehicles are most often involved in deadly crashes. Data was collected for the 5-year period ending in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

Car sales figures for 2018 are retrieved from car manufacturers. We treated the Ford F-Series and Ram truck lines as a single model each throughout the study, as Ford and Ram do not report sales for individual model variants. We also consolidated Ram Trucks before and after being spun out from Dodge.

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