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5 Cars with the Worst Safety Ratings

When buying a new car there are many things to take into consideration. Fuel economy, ongoing maintenance costs, comfort, whether the vehicle will be used for long trips or short commutes, the durability of the vehicle if you have kids or pets. Safety, however, is always at the top of the list for everyone - especially parents. Each year various authorities in the industry such as JD Power and Associates and Consumer Reports publish lists of the best and the worst cars in terms of safety and many other attributes.

What Makes Up a Safety Rating?

Among the factors that are taken into consideration when creating safety ratings are the following:

1. Braking distance at certain speeds and in certain weather conditions. Typically highway and city speeds are tested as are dry and wet braking distances.

2. Avoidance maneuvering - This is a fancy way of saying "How long does it take you to dodge a deer, a pedestrian or another car."

3. Visibility - We all know most cars have blind spots, this segment determines which vehicles are more dangerous based on how well you can see cars and trucks that are approaching your vehicle while traveling.

4. Acceleration - Good acceleration is not just for those with a heavy foot. Being able to merge into oncoming traffic and being able to accelerate readily through dangerous situations is vital to a vehicle's safety.

5. Impact - When it comes time to get in a crash, you want to make sure you have as much cushioning (airbags) and strength (steel) between you and whatever has hit you. Extensive performance tests are done on all new vehicles to measure potential harm in different crash types. These include, front, side, rear, and rollover accidents.

These are a few of the biggest factors considered in rating vehicle safety. Now, getting on with it, here are the most unsafe vehicles from the 2012 lineup:

1. Dodge Ram 1500

Who would expect the big, heavy, bold Ram to make the top of the list in worst safety ratings? Certainly there is an expectation that in a large truck you are fairly safe. The Ram is a perennial favorite among the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its annual worst-rated list. The Ram has poor side impact and rollover ratings. With a sizable engines and options that rival luxury sedans the Ram remains a favorite among truck enthusiasts. Despite 15 plus years of poor safety ratings the Dodge Ram continues to sell well!

2. Chevy Colorado Crew Cab

Unlike the Dodge Ram the Chevy Colorado Crew Cab and it's standard cab brother, has performed poorly in the sales arena in the last four years, losing nearly half of its market share from 2007 to 2011. The Colorado has performed poorly in sid, rollover, and rear impact tests. Needless to say, the recall in 2011 for safety belt concerns did not help its reputation. Don't expect to see this one stay in the Chevy line up (at least in its current form) for long.

3 & 4. Mazda CX-7 and CX-9

Mazda's CX lineup has the dubious honor of making the top 5 list twice! The CX-7 and CX-9, heavy favorites among the 20s to early 30s set may be fun to drive but they certainly aren't winning any awards in the safety arena. Both of these vehicles have low side and rear impact scores. The CX-9 has the added ‘benefit' of receiving a low crush score - that is the amount of weight or force the roof can take prior to crushing at least five inches. You better keep an eye in the rear view mirror when driving these two.

5. Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder finds itself in the number 5 slot due to (like many of its poor performing counterparts) low rollover and rear impact scores. With a dud of a design its no surprise that this vehicle's sales have languished over the past several years. The resale value is won't cause dollar signs to ring up in your eyes either, a quick look around autotrader.com shows the resell value of the Pathfinder to be significantly lower than that of the Toyota Forerunner. This is one ugly duckling.

Just for fun check out these historically unsfafe automobiles as listed from Time Inc

Historically Unsafe Cars!
1899 Horsey Horseless 1909 Ford Model T 1911 Overland OctoAuto
1913 Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo 1920 Briggs and Stratton Flyer 1933 Fuller Dymaxion
1934 Chrysler/Desoto Airflow 1949 Crosley Hotshot 1956 Renault Dauphine
1957 King Midget Model III 1957 Waterman Aerobile 1958 Ford Edsel
1958 Lotus Elite 1958 MGA Twin Cam 1958 Zunndapp Janus
1961 Amphicar 1961 Corvair 1966 Peel Trident
1970 AMC Gremlin 1970 Triumph Stag 1971 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron
1971 Ford Pinto 1974 Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III 1975 Bricklin SV1
1975 Morgan Plus 8 Propane 1975 Triumph TR7 1975 Trabant
1976 Aston Martin Lagonda 1976 Chevy Chevette 1978 AMC Pacer
1980 Corvette 305 "California" 1980 Ferrari Mondial 8 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood V-8-6-4
1981 De Lorean DMC-12 1982 Cadillac Cimarron 1982 Camaro Iron Duke
1984 Maserati Biturbo 1985 Mosler Consulier GTP 1985 Yugo GV
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