3 Extinct Car Brands Can Still Claim the Safest Drivers on the Road Today
The final results are here: In 2023 Ram owners got the most speeding tickets, Tesla drivers were involved in the most crashes, and BMW owners got the most DUIs. The three safest car brands were Mercury, Pontiac, and Saturn. These three automakers have something interesting in common: they all went out of business in 2010. But the low amount of them still on the road isn’t why they were “safest;” their rankings are based on the incidents per capita.
The team at Lending Tree sifted through tens of millions of insurance quotes for data on driving incidents between November 2022 and 2023.
Nationwide, Ram drivers had the most driving incidents of any kind: 32.90/1,000 drivers. The same held true in 23 specific states. Nationwide, Tesla came in second with an average of 31.13 incidents/1,000 drivers. Tesla also took the lead from Ram in 11 states.
What about Saturn? Nationwide, Saturn’s average was 16.84 incidents/1,000 drivers. With an even lower number, Pontiac had 16.24 incidents/1,000 drivers. But the safest was Mercury. Across the country, Mercury only had an average of 15.82 incidents/1,000 drivers.
That means Mercury drivers were involved in incidents at less than half the rate of Ram drivers. These incidents include crashes, speeding, DUIs, and other citations such as recklessness, safety violations, or even refusing to use your turn signals.
What is fascinating is that every Mercury, Saturn, and Pontiac on the road is at least 10 years old. So they don’t have any of the latest driver aid software engineered to prevent crashes. But Tesla, which is leading the charge with its “Autopilot” software, had almost twice as many incidents.
So what’s going on here? An important aspect of Lending Tree’s data is that it is ranked by the number of drivers insuring a vehicle from each brand–not the number of miles those cars drive. Mercury, Saturn, or Pontiac cars that are still on the road are more likely to have had low mileage lives. There’s a good chance they are still not driving many miles per year. Perhaps they belong to folks who work from home or who are retired, so they aren’t pressed into service for a daily commute. And obviously this matters.
Whatever the reason, it’s pretty cool that these three car brands–which all went extinct in 2010, in the aftermath of the financial crisis–can still claim some of the safest records on the road.