While it may seem obvious that drivers of large cars are safer than those of smaller ones, new figures show wide variations between similarly sized cars. For example, in the small category which includes the worst performing car, the Dyane/2CV, drivers of Renault Clios and Yugo 3-500s have a 25 per cent better chance of not being injured in a crash.
The statistics collated by the Department of Transport are based on 144,000 two-car collisions between 1989 and 1993 which led to 175,000 injuries, including 12,250 deaths and serious injury.
Similarly, for large cars, the chances of an injury in a Vauxhall Senator are almost twice that of people in a Jaguar XJ, despite the latter's capability for high performance.
Some cars, such as the Toyota Carina, the Vauxhall Carlton and the Nissan Sunny, which appeared to perform particularly badly, have been modified by the manufacturers and the safety record of newer models is consequently much improved.
This is only the second year for which these figures have been issued and the Department of Transport stresses that they deal only with the prospect of avoiding injuries or death after an accident has occurred and give no guidance on the chances of being in a crash in a particular model of car.
tTransport Statistics Report, Cars: make and model: The risk of driver injury and car accident rates in Great Britain: 1993; HMSO; £8.Reuse content