Are older vehicles more dangerous to drive than new cars? What can drivers do to improve the safety of older vehicles? Drivers who operate older vehicles are at greater risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident. Drivers who have an older vehicle can reduce their risk by making sure the vehicle is well-maintained and that minor issues are repaired before they become major problems.
FARS data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2012 to 2016 showed that the older the vehicle, the greater the proportion of occupants who suffered a fatal injury. The data showed that 55% of occupants in vehicles from 1984 or older died in a fatality causing collision. That rate dropped slightly to 53% for vehicles manufactured between 1985-1992. From there, it dropped to 46% for vehicles made between 1993-1997.
It continued to drop to 42% for vehicles made from 1998-2002, and again to 36% for vehicles produced from 2003-2007. It reached 31% for cars made between 2008-2012, and dropped to 26% for vehicles manufactured between 2012-2017. The data shows a clear pattern of decrease in a 3-6% fatality rate for every increased 4 years of vehicle age. For comparison, vehicles that were 3-years old or newer had a fatality rate of 27% which was comparable to vehicles that were between 3-8 years old.
Nationwide, the average age of vehicles Americans drive is 11.6 years old. This means that many drivers are at a statistically higher risk of suffering a fatality or serious injury in a motor vehicle accident. The most recent FARS data confirms data and hypothesis presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013. This earlier data showed that when a vehicle was 18 years or older, occupants were 71% more likely to suffer a fatality than occupants of vehicles 3 years or newer.
Individuals who drive older vehicles can reduce their risk by maintaining critical systems. Brake systems, steering systems, and lighting systems should be maintained by a qualified mechanic. Strict adherence to maintenance schedules and recommended service can significantly improve the safety of older vehicles.
Further, while less expensive than newer vehicles, parents should not purchase an older vehicle for their teenage driver. Indeed, data regarding the safety of older vehicles shows that the investment of a few thousand dollars more towards a newer vehicle just might save the driver's life. Not only are newer vehicles less prone to mechanical failures, they include newer safety features including airbags, antilock brakes, and other equipment that can protect drivers.
Call in the Bull when you have a car accident involving an older car in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, or Texas. You can call us at 1-800-241-BRAD, or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400 to speak with an attorney. You can reach Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL.