According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), for the first time in history, more vehicle models than ever before have never been involved in a deadly crash. The flipside to this promising data is that older cars still present serious risks, especially to younger drivers. While deadly car crashes are still too common — taking the lives of more than 30,000 people per year, on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – vehicles keep getting safer, and deadly crashes could one day become a thing of the past.
One reason for the decrease in passenger vehicle accident fatalities is that automakers have added technology like seat belts with built-in airbags, automatic braking systems, lane-departure warning, rear-view and 360-degree cameras, and blind-spot alert systems. One improvement, electronic stability control, is now required on all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S., and according to Russ Rader, IIHS senior vice president for communications, “is having a stunning effect in reducing crashes and crash deaths” by preventing the sort of slides and skids that were all too common in the past. And the IIHS has just released a study that vehicles equipped with front crash prevention, like auto braking, would have resulted in at least 700,000 fewer rear-end crashes in an annual period. Moreover, systems with automatic braking reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent on average, while forward collision warning alone cuts them by 23 percent, the study found.
“The success of front crash prevention represents a big step toward safer roads,” says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. “As this technology becomes more widespread, we can expect to see noticeably fewer rear-end crashes. The same goes for the whiplash injuries that often result from these crashes and can cause a lot of pain and lost productivity.”
However, the picture is not as rosy for many younger drivers given that their first cars are older models which don’t offer the latest crash protections and lack important safety technologies. In fact, in a recent survey of parents of teen drivers, 83 percent of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used. Teenagers who drove a vehicle that the family already owned were even more likely to drive an older vehicle, with two-thirds of those parents responding that the vehicle was from 2006 or earlier.
“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” says Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. But with more safety features required on car models over the past 10 years, if parents narrow their search to cars manufactured after 2005, that can go a long way towards preventing serious crash injuries, while still getting a vehicle at a great price. “It’s easier than ever to find a used vehicle with must-have safety features and decent crash test performance without spending a fortune,” says McCartt. This will help ensure that both teen drivers operating used vehicles and those of us driving newer models can benefit from advances in automotive technologies aimed at keeping us all safer on the road.
If you or someone you love were injured in a car accident, contact a knowledgeable Colorado auto accident lawyer who can help evaluate your individual case and ensure your legal rights are protected.