Drivers of Older Cars Substantially More Likely to Die in Accident: Study

A recent government report suggests that individuals driving an older car may be significantly more likely to die in an auto accident.  

In a research note (PDF) published in the August edition of Traffic Safety Facts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that drivers of cars 18 years or older were 71% more likely to die in a car crash than someone in a car that was three years old or newer. The researchers found that the older the car, the more likely the odds of death during an accident.

The NHTSA looked at data from 117,957 fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers and 133,869 surviving passenger vehicle drivers. The data was collected from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 2005 to 2011.

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According to the findings, when compared to those driving cars under four years of age, those operating vehicles 18 years or older were 71% more likely to die in an auto accident. Drivers of cars 15 to 17 years old were 50% more likely to be fatally injured. For those driving cars between 12 to 14 years old, the risk dropped to only a 32% increase; then a 19% increase for those driving cars between eight and 11 years old, and just a 10% increase for drivers of cars that were four to seven years old.

The researchers found that safety restraints play a large factor in deaths as well. Regardless of the age of the vehicle, those driving without safety restraints had a 76% to 78% chance of death. Researchers found that if the driver of a newer car failed to buckle their seatbelt, all of the safety of having a newer vehicle was eliminated.

The study did not look at the safety of different types of passenger vehicles or why the death rates were higher.

The findings were adjusted for a number of factors, including the age of the driver, blood alcohol content, whether the person was speeding, the time of day, and even the type of road.

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