Does Driving an Older Car Increase Injury Risk?

According to an article at EHS Today ( ), the author and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make the case that older vehicles increase your risk of injury for a number of interesting reasons.

First of all, it’s important to define “older” — according to NHTSA, any make/model of 2008 or newer vintage is a “newer car” and those older are, well, “older cars”.

According to the article;

“In its June 2012 report, “An Analysis of Recent Improvements to Vehicle Safety,” NHTSA set out to determine what role vehicle safety improvements played in the historically low fatality and injury rates over the last several years. NHTSA’s data crunchers performed detailed statistical model analysis to ascertain if vehicle safety improvements since 2000 could be responsible for preventing injuries and fatalities. Their final conclusion is not surprising. The magnitude of those findings, however, is eye-opening.”

NHTSA concluded; “We estimate that the likelihood of crashing in 100,000 miles of driving has decreased from 30 percent in a model year 2000 car to 25 percent in a model year 2008 one, when both vehicles are driven “as new”. The likelihood of escaping a crash uninjured has improved from 79 to 82 percent as a result of improvements between the 2000 and 2008 car fleets. Improvements are also found for light trucks and vans, and for the chances of surviving a crash and avoiding incapacitation.”

To summarize other key findings:

  • Improvements made to newer models (post CY2000) prevented an estimated 700,000 vehicles from crashing.
  • These newer car improvements prevented or mitigated an estimated 1 million occupant injuries.
  • The improvements to newer cars likely saved 2,000 lives in the year 2008 alone.
  • Of the 9 million crashes occurring among passenger vehicles in 2008, 200,000 could have been prevented if the vehicles had the benefits of more recent safety systems.
  • The conclusions apply equally to light trucks and vans – not just sedans and minivans, etc.

It’s interesting to note that many families with teenagers learning to drive put their children in the oldest car so that if there’s a crash, it’s not as big a loss (i.e. “who cares if the old van gets one more dent?”) 

Unfortunately, the issue isn’t really about getting one more dent or one more scratch — it may be about whether your teen survives the collision at all.

So what do you think?  Perhaps it’s time to consider trading up to a newer model and retiring your older vehicle?

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