Although the chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle have fallen by more than one-third in three years, the gap between the safest and riskiest models remains wide, according to a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Among 2011 models—the most recent year included in the study—three cars have death rates of more than 100 per million registered vehicles, while a record nine vehicles have driver death rates of zero.

IIHS researchers attribute much of the continuing decline in fatality risk to improved vehicle designs and safety technology. [Related story: 3 ways cars are getting safer.] Among the 2011 models, there were 28 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years through the 2012 calendar year, down from 48 for 2008 models through calendar year 2009. IIHS defines a registered vehicle year as one vehicle registered for one year.

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Rosalie Donlon

Rosalie Donlon is the editor in chief of ALM's insurance and tax publications, including NU Property & Casualty magazine and NU You can contact her at [email protected].