Slacking on Safety: The 8 Most Dangerous Cars on the Highway

Slacking on Safety - Featured

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Your No. 1 priority on the road is to get from point A to point B safely. Most cars will achieve this feat just fine, but there are some makes and models to watch out for. An automaker may skimp on safety and cut corners, or your type of vehicle may inherently be vulnerable to crashes. What are the most dangerous cars on the road? Here’s a guide showing what vehicles you should be aware of on the highway. 

8 Most Dangerous Cars on the Road

How can you measure the most dangerous cars? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compiles crash and fatality data to see what vehicles are in the most accidents. The following eight cars have the highest driver death rate per one million registered vehicle years. Each vehicle will indicate its death rate from 2020 and equivalent models.

8. Kia Forte – 111

Kia is a generally safe automaker to buy cars from. The South Korean automaker scores a 9.36/10 safety rating from U.S. News and World Report, but there are a couple of models making their way onto the most dangerous cars list. First, let’s look at the Kia Forte. 

The Kia Forte has 111 deaths per million registrations, making it the most dangerous small car on the IIHS list. Its 2019 and 2020 models score poorly, making them an outlier among the Kia family of vehicles. Small cars are generally less safe than their smaller counterparts. Forte drivers have complained about insufficient headlights, transmission issues and engine problems. Those complications aren’t a recipe for success. 

7. Nissan Altima – 113

Blue Nissan Altima on top of concrete pavement.

The IIHS’ most dangerous midsize sedan is the Nissan Altima. This model from 2019 to 2020 produced a driver death rate of 100 people per million registrations. The Altima is one of Nissan’s affordable sedans, making it popular for parents buying a first car for their children. However, its safety has come into question. 

The 2019-2020 Nissan Altimas are in question here, but this model has faced ire from its drivers for a while. Altima owners complain of transmission problems, braking issues and unexpected hood releases. All these factors combine to give the Altima seventh place on the list.

6. Dodge Charger HEMI 2WD – 118

When you look at automaker reliability ratings, Dodge isn’t typically high on the list. Last year’s reliability rankings from Consumer Reports didn’t have sufficient data to rank Dodge. However, Ram, its truck lineup, ranked 16th with a 42/100 reliability score. So, seeing the Dodge Charger on the list of most dangerous cars isn’t necessarily surprising. 

The Charger has had some reliability issues in the past few years. For example, faulty Takata airbag inflators forced a recall of Chargers produced between 2005 and 2010. Modern Chargers have an unsafe reputation due to their high horsepower and power in the rear wheels. A Dodge Charger HEMI 2WD may be too much for a young person to drive. 

5. Kia Rio – 122

Four of the top five cars on this list are mini vehicles. No, we’re not talking about the brand Mini, which falls under the BMW umbrella. We’re including small cars that aren’t necessarily full-sized sedans, and we’ll start with the Kia Rio.

The 2018-2021 Kia Rio sedan had a death rate of 122 people per million registrations. The Rio is a unique vehicle because it has a high death rate for drivers and others involved in the accident. This model from the 2018 through 2021 model years had an other-driver death rate of 133 — far exceeding any other mini car on the list. 

4. Chevrolet Spark – 151

Chevrolet no longer produces the Spark, as it discontinued the model in 2022. Honestly, that may have been the best decision. The Spark had a death rate of 151 people per million registrations. This vehicle was popular in South Korea, as General Motors (GM) produced the city car there from 1998 until 2022. You could buy an electric version of the Spark in Oregon and California in 2013, but it only had a limited release. 

The Chevy Spark was a solid option if you lived in a large metropolitan area and just needed a city car to get around. The price tag starting under $15,000 was also attractive. However, it just couldn’t keep up with safety measures. Its small stature made it challenging to protect drivers in crashes. The Spark scored high enough safety marks to pass federal regulations, but it struggles to protect drivers in collisions. 

3. Hyundai Accent – 152

White Hyundai Accent parks on the side of the road.

Hyundai and its luxury brand, Genesis, generally produce reliable vehicles, so the Accent may seem like an anomaly for the Korean automaker. The Hyundai Accent ranks third for mini cars in driver death rate with 152 deaths per million registrations. 

Why does the Hyundai Accent have a lousy reputation? Testing and accident results have not been kind to the Accent and its drivers. Research shows this model doesn’t provide solid airbag support in accidents, and the passengers may face leg damage.

2. Dodge Challenger 2WD – 154

Blue Dodge Challenger under a bridge.

If you’re considering the Dodge Challenger instead of the Charger, think again. The 2WD trim has a driver death rate of 154 per million registrations. Like the Charger, the Challenger falls into the large vehicle category. More robust bodies are supposed to protect drivers from incidents, but that might not be true with the Challenger. 

The dangers with the Challenger (and Charger, frankly) may relate to the vehicles’ reputation. When you drive these cars, you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a sports car due to their high horsepower. However, some operators don’t employ best driving practices and crash. 

1. Mitsubishi Mirage G4 – 205 and Hatchback – 183 

The most dangerous car in the past few years has been the Mitsubishi Mirage G4, with a driver death rate of 205 people per million registrations. Why do people consider the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 one of the most dangerous cars? First, the data back it up. Also, the car suffers from cheap construction.

The Mirage G4 starts at just $17,795, a welcome sight considering the exorbitant prices on the car market. However, it has just 78 horsepower — too low to keep you safe. Also, its collision system isn’t conducive to safety.  

The Mirage G4 trim is dangerous, and the hatchback model isn’t much better. The Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback has a driver death rate of 183 per million registrations. 

Avoiding the Most Dangerous Cars in the Modern Era

Driver safety boils down to two primary factors: your driving style and the infrastructure of your vehicle. Your car will last as long as you drive safely, and the automaker puts love and care into each machine. If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle, consider avoiding the cars on this list due to their high driver death rate.

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