Older cars can be great to own, given their value against their cost. Some people think that as long as your vehicle gets you from point A to point B, then it does not matter how old it is or in what condition it is in. It is worth considering then that older cars tend to be in more crashes than newer ones. Additionally, with those crashes involving older cars, there are more injuries and more fatalities. If you currently own an older vehicle, you may want to consider purchasing a newer vehicle to be safer when driving on the roads and highways of Delaware.
Recent Studies on the Safety of Older Vehicles
As stated, there are more fatalities in older model car accidents as compared to newer model car accidents. The severity of injuries also increases as the older their vehicles get. The study was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and looked at data from 2012 to 2016. The study consistently found that the percentage of drivers and passengers fatally injured increased as the vehicle age increased. The following is a breakdown of what the data demonstrated as to the fatality rate for each car age grouping:
- Cars produced earlier than 1985 had a 55 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 1985-92 had a 53 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 1993-97 had a 46 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 1998-2002 had a 42 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 2003-07 had a 36 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 2008-12 had a 31 percent fatality rate
- Cars produced between 2013-17 had a 26 percent fatality rate
The current average age of a car in the United States is 11.6 years. Because cars and trucks are much more well-made, as we go into the future, the age of vehicles will increase because they last longer before they are scrapped.
Why Do Older Cars Cause More Accidents and Injuries?
The data shows that older vehicles are involved in more crashes, and that during those crashes, there are more injuries and more fatalities as compared to crashes in newer cars. Why is this the case? What about older vehicles that create this phenomenon? Here are some of the reasons why older vehicles are less safe than newer vehicles:
- Older cars are more likely to develop mechanical defects than newer cars, such as tire failure like blow-outs, brake failure, engine issues that cause drivers to lose control of the vehicle.
- Older vehicles have fewer safety devices and older versions of safety devices that are not as effective as those in newer vehicles.
- Older vehicles have less “crashworthiness” than newer vehicles– crashworthiness is the ability of a vehicle to protect the occupants during crashes by using various design systems and manufacturing and material uses.
- Older safety devices are more prone to failure due to age, such as malfunctioning airbags and malfunctioning seat belts.
Does Age of the Driver Correlate with Driving Older Vehicles?
There are questions as to whether the age of the driver in the older car matters within the data. For example, do younger, newer drivers tend to drive older vehicles because they are cheaper? Think of a high school student getting their driver’s license and then buying a cheap, older car as their first vehicle, or being handed down a similar vehicle. This common occurrence may cause more injuries for two reasons:
- Teenagers tend to be more dangerous drivers than drivers of older age groups
- Older vehicles tend to have more injuries and fatalities.
Teenagers are more dangerous drivers due to their tendency to drive faster and take dangerous chances, such as not wearing a seat belt or driving under the influence.
These arguments can also be made with older, senior citizens and the types of vehicles that they tend to drive. In many cases, due to the fact that they are retired and are not actively working, older Americans will tend to drive older cars. Also, combine that with the facts that older drivers, like teenage drivers, tend to get into more vehicle crashes than other age groups. Unfortunately, the data does not cover these questions adequately, but the argument makes sense.
Types of Injuries from Older Vehicle Crashes
There are many types of serious injuries that drivers and occupants can suffer from in these types of crashes. The following is a list of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents:
- Broken bones
- Closed head injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Herniated and bulging discs in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine
- Nerve damage throughout the body
- Severe third-degree burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Torn muscles
- Torn or damaged ligaments and tendons
- Weakness and nerve tingling down the arms and/or legs
- Whiplash injuries to the neck