Older Cars and Personal Injuries in Auto Accidents

View of the headlights and side mirror on an older vehicle

Driving an Older Car Could Increase Your Risk of Serious or Fatal Injuries After a Car Accident

Does the age of your automobile have anything to do with your risk of sustaining debilitating or even deadly injuries in a traffic collision? According to an article in cars.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released data that suggests that “new vehicles are the safest on U.S. roads.” To put that another way, older vehicles are less safe than new cars, and drivers or passengers in older cars could be more likely to suffer severe auto accident injuries after a crash.

How did NHTSA reach this conclusion? It gathered data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which showed that “a greater proportion of deaths among occupants in fatal crashes occurred in older model-year vehicles compared with newer model-year vehicles.” Not only are older vehicles more dangerous than newer vehicles, but it turns out that the older the vehicle, the more severe a vehicle occupant’s injuries after a car accident.

The fact that newer vehicles have improved technology also means that owners tend to keep them for longer periods of time. The average number of years that a person keeps a car is 11.6 years. As such, a car that once had top-of-the-line safety features could prove to be less safe several years down the road. When possible, consumers should shop for vehicles that fit within their budgets but also provide safety features to avoid life-threatening auto accident injuries in the event of a serious crash. Additional prevention tips and resources are available, too. If you have experienced an injury after a car accident, you should discuss your case with a car accident lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation.

Learning More About Vehicle Age and Auto Accident Injury Severity Risk

Just how much more dangerous are older cars than newer cars when it comes to fatal injuries after a car accident? The study looked at particular age groups of cars, and then at fatality rates. Generally speaking, vehicles can be grouped into age classes according to their safety:

  • 0-3 years old;
  • 4-7 years old;
  • 8-11 years old;
  • 12-14 years old;
  • 15-17 years old; and
  • 18 years older and more.

The fatality rate for occupants in vehicles between 0-3 years old was 27%. That number nearly doubled for occupants of passenger vehicles that were at least 18 years old. For occupants in vehicles that are 18 or more years old, the fatality rate is 50%. The study broke down the fatality rate for each year class of vehicles:

  • Vehicle models from 2013-2017: 26% of occupants in crashes were killed;
  • Vehicle models from 2008-2012: 31% of drivers or passengers died in crashes;
  • Vehicle models from 2003-2007: 36% of occupants sustained fatal injuries;
  • Vehicle models from 1998-2002: 42% of occupants suffered deadly injuries;
  • Vehicle models from 1993-1997: 46% of drivers or passengers were killed in collisions;
  • Vehicle models from 1985-1992: 53% of occupants died in crashes; and
  • Vehicle models from 1984 and older: 55% of occupants sustained deadly injuries in collisions.

Were you involved in a serious motor vehicle collision? You should discuss your case with a car accident attorney as soon as you can.

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