Study Shows Chevy Blazer Has Highest Driver Fatality Rate

By: Jenny Mclane

According to a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), General Motors Corp. vehicles had the highest and lowest driver fatality rates from 2002 through 2005. And the highest rate is linked to Chevy Blazers.

The study found that the Chevrolet Blazer which comes as a two-door, two-wheel drive SUV built from 2001 to 2004, had the highest rate of driver fatalities which amounts to 232 per million registered vehicles during the four-year duration.

The Blazer was launched in 1969 on the C/K pickup truck chassis that produces GM's trucks. In 1970, the largest automaker introduced Jimmy - its own model of the truck which was produced until the arrival of GMC Yukon in 1992. The Blazer is replaced by the Chevrolet Tahoe which is now a full-size SUV.

The Blazer and Jimmy, based on the short wheelbase trucks, were made available with either four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. Its long wheelbase sibling is called the Chevrolet Suburban. Both the K5 Blazer and the Jimmy were given fabulous removable tops for the first few years until 1976 when the half-cab body style was launched. In 1983, the S-10 Blazer and S-15 Jimmy, all smaller models, were introduced. The original Blazer and Jimmy remained in production until 1991.

GM's Chevrolet Astro, on the other hand, is the recipient of the lowest rate with only seven fatalities per million registered vehicles. The Astro boasts of powerful auto parts that consist of engines, , radiators, filters and more. The midsize van, which has debuted in 1985, is engineered to compete with domestic rivals like the Dodge Caravan. The Astro shares the same platform with GMC Safari which is its sibling.

In connection with the rating, the Infiniti G35, BMW 7 Series and the Toyota 4Runner came next to the Chevrolet Astro. Additionally, the two-door Acura RSX had the second-highest rate with 202 driver deaths followed by the Nissan 350Z, with 193 deaths.

The Chevy Astro and Blazer went out of production in 2005.

Automakers said the study was limited in scope because it did not include factors such as driver behavior that could play a key role. "It's difficult to really draw much significance," said GM spokesman Alan Adler.

Nissan said its vehicles, including the 350Z, are designed to meet government safety regulations and the automaker's internal safety requirements. Chris Naughton, a spokesman for Acura parent Honda Motor Co., said that the Acura RSX had younger buyers, which could have contributed to its ranking.

The IIHS found the average death rate decreased from 110 from 1990 to 1994 to the current rate of 79 for the 2002 to 2005 period.

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