Hanging on to an older car is a source of pride for many people. It's paid off. It's been meticulously maintained. Maybe it's even got a nickname. But as new research reveals, it may also be a death trap.
A study conducted by researchers from ANCAP, an independent auto safety testing group in Australia and New Zealand, found that occupants in cars manufactured prior to 2000 are four times more likely to die in a car accident than those in vehicles manufactured in 2011 and beyond. To illustrate the fact, they released a video showing a 1998 Toyota Corolla colliding at 40 mph in a head-on collision with its 2015 counterpart.
While the newer car's cabin was largely still intact, the door able to be opened, the older car was reduced to heap of crumpled metal, the passenger cabin completely encroached upon by the wheels, engine and roof. Data from the test dummy inside revealed the impact likely would have caused severe head, chest and leg injuries, which may not have been survivable.
Study Mirrors Previous Data
The danger of older cars isn't a new discovery, though the ANCAP research drives home the point of just how quickly auto safety technology has advanced.
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), looked at injury severity in crashes based on vehicle model year. The differences were striking. In vehicles that were 4 to 7 years-old, occupants were 10 percent more likely to suffer fatal crashes than occupants of vehicles under 3 years. In vehicles between 8 and 11, the risk was 19 percent higher. Drivers in cars ages 12 to 15 were 32 percent more likely to die. In cars ages 15 to 17, occupants were 50 percent more likely to suffer fatal injury. And in vehicles that were 18 years or older, occupants were 71 percent more likely to die than those in newer cars.
The reason has much to do with certain safety features that previously were considered "luxury" that today are standard - electronic stability control, rear view cameras, better seat belts and more airbags. It also has to do with improvements in structural integrity of vehicles, as well as better child safety seats, booster seats and rear occupant protections.
A Growing Problem
Although it might be tempting to think these issues will resolve on their own (after all, older cars eventually are scrapped), the reality is more people than ever are hanging onto their older cars - and for longer. Analysis by IHS Markit, as reported by Automotive News, revealed that while the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads in 2002 was 9.6, that had risen to 11.6 as of 2016.
What's more, researchers posit that by 20121, the number of vehicles in the 6-11-year range are going to grow by 5 percent, vehicles 12 or older will grow 10 percent and vehicles 16 and older will grow 30 percent. By that year, it's expected that 20 million vehicles in use will be over the age of 25.
Our car accident attorneys in Fort Worth recognize this as a major safety challenge that safety advocates, government regulators, manufacturers and consumers are going to need to tackle over the next several years.
If you are injured in a serious crash, it's imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer who can help you examine your legal options. With older vehicles, there may be additional claims we might not concern ourselves with in cases involving newer cars. These might include negligence of owners who failed to properly maintain their vehicles or repair shops who conducted faulty repair and/ or maintenance.