The Mazda Miata is a small roadster loved by enthusiast who can appreciate a car that is just simply fun to drive. I would have to take off my shoes to count the number of friends, both in-real-life and online, who own or owned a Miata at one point in their life. Most of them own a very old, abused and somehow still-running Miata. Nonetheless a Miata.
NHTSA’s Database of Death (aka Fatality Analysis Reporting System – FARS) provided the source of fatalities for this post. The data isn’t as easy to get to as you might expect because FARS doesn’t allow you to just select Make, Model, Year of Fatality, etc. – you have to query year-by-year.
FARS isn’t 100% accurate. Data integrity is one of the many reasons NHTSA is in the process of updating how federal and state governments capture, input and crunch data on death and injury on America’s roads. This is all part of a larger multimillion dollar modernization project.
By know you’re either thinking this guy really loves death and what do these graphs mean ? Are old Miatas/cars unsafe? What will I do on Craigslist NOW?
Yes? No? Maybe? All the above?!
Calm down. While I didn’t have a chance to examine each accident report, document restraint use or measure fatalities against production – the graphs allow you to quickly see that that is a correlations between number of models built and number of fatalities recorded for that model year vehicle. Makes sense.
Here is an interesting data point: 2012 was the highest year for people killed while driving a 1990 Miata. Is this because the cars are less-safe? Or has the cost to purchase fallen to a point where inexperienced drivers are getting behind the wheel? According to FARS, the 9 people that lost their lives in a 1990 Miata in 2012 were: 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 33, 49 and 61 years old.
In the future our Death Toll posts will explore in deeper detail the fatalities per model year to give a greater sense of safety. We will also continue to highlight various other fatality factors unique to specific vehicles.