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Is Driving an Older Car More Dangerous?

February 15, 2022

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C., Help Clients Seriously Injured in Collisions.

There is an increased risk to your safety when driving or riding in an older car. It is an increased risk because there is always a chance of getting into a car accident every time you get into a vehicle. Despite this increased risk, every year there are more and more older vehicles on the roads and highways of the United States. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that newer vehicles last longer these days. If a new vehicle is well maintained, you can expect it to have a 20-year or longer driving life, barring some major accident that totals the vehicle. This statistic is not based on certain makes and models but covers almost all vehicles. However, currently older vehicles are not as safe as newer vehicles because of increased safety devices, better manufacturing, and better safety technology.


Why Are There More Older Cars on the Roads than Ever Before?


According to a 2021 study by the research firm IHS Markit, older vehicles currently on the roads have increased in age and are continuing to increase in number. The average age of vehicles currently sits at 12.1 years, which was an increase of one month since the last study in 2019. There are many reasons for this. Here are the major reasons as to the continued increase in the average age of vehicles currently in use:


  • Production quality along with better materials and design allows vehicles to last longer.
  • Better safety design allows vehicles to absorb impacts from collision and be repaired more easily and cheaper.
  • New vehicles have higher prices than before, on average.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slump in the purchase of new vehicles.
  • People have been unsure of their employment status over the past few years and have chosen to not buy a new vehicle.
  • There have been fewer new vehicles on new car sales lots because of supply chain issues.


The price of new vehicles is a major factor. People are not buying new vehicles, especially given the pandemic and how it has affected the economy. If you do not think so, look at the price of an average truck and you will get a sticker shock. A non-commercial truck can easily run into the $50,000 to $65,000 range, and that is for a base model. The average price of a new vehicle in January 2021 was $37,851, a 3.5 percent increase from January 2019, according to Kelley Blue Book. According to Hedges Company, there were 286.9 million registered cars in the United States in 2020. That is 0.84 percent more than the 284.5 million units in 2019. Therefore, there are a huge number of older vehicles on the roads, and those vehicles pose an increased risk of personal injury.


Data on the Safety of Older Vehicles


There have been several studies over the past few years looking at the data and statistics of the safety of older vehicles. The numbers are straightforward and very clear that older cars and trucks are more dangerous to drive or ride in. Not only are you more likely to be injured in an older vehicle, but also as the vehicle age increases, so do the seriousness of your injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked at data from 2012 to 2016 regarding this issue. The study consistently found that the percentage of drivers and passengers fatally injured increased as the vehicle age increased. For example, vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2017 had a 26 percent fatality rate. Cars and trucks manufactured from 2003 to 2007 had a 36 percent fatality rate. Vehicles manufactured from 1993 to 1997 had a 46 percent fatality rate. Finally, vehicles that were manufactured in 1984 or earlier had a 55 percent fatality rate. It is clear from the data that as the older a vehicle becomes, the more dangerous it is and the more risks of injury or death the driver or occupants face.


Why Do Older Cars Cause More Accidents and Injuries?


What features of older vehicles make them more dangerous? Some of the reasons are obvious, and some are not so obvious. Old vehicles are more prone to mechanical problems such as tire blowouts, brake failure, and engine difficulties that cause drivers to lose control of the automobile and crash. Obviously, newer technology, especially in the implementation of new safety devices and systems, make newer vehicles safer, and by correlation, older vehicles less safe. The older the car, the less crashworthiness it has.


Crashworthiness describes a vehicle’s ability to handle a forceful impact well and protect its passengers in collisions. This is done by utilizing certain design systems, manufacturing processes, and material choices. Things that make a vehicle crashworthy are those that are designed to minimize occupant injuries, prevent ejection from the vehicle, and reduce the risk of fire. For example, seat belts, crumple zones, and airbags, including front and side-impact airbags, would make a vehicle more crashworthy than a vehicle without these devices.


Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C., Help Clients Seriously Injured in Collisions


Sustaining a serious injury from a car accident can turn your life upside down. Most people do not know what to do when this happens and have a lot of questions. If you have been injured in a car accident, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. We pride ourselves on always keeping in close contact with our clients and making sure they know what is always going on with their case. Call us today at 215-569-9100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.