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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Relationship between US Societal Fatality Risk per Vehicle Miles of Travel and Mass, for Individual Vehicle Models over Time (Model Year):


This report presents a new approach to analyze the relationship between vehicle mass and risk: tracking fatality risk by vehicle model year and mass, for individual vehicle models. This approach is appealing as it greatly minimizes the influence of driver characteristics and behavior, and crash circumstances, on fatality risk. However, only the most popular vehicle models, with the largest number of fatalities, can be analyzed in this manner. While the analysis of all vehicle models of a given type suggests that there is a relationship between increased mass and fatality risk, analysis of the ten most popular four-door car models separately suggests that this relationship is weak: in many cases when the mass of a specific vehicle model is increased societal fatality risk is unchanged or even increases. These results suggest that increasing the mass of an individual vehicle model does not necessarily lead to decreased societal fatality risk.

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