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Newer Car Safety Features Have Impact on Injury Severity Risk: NHTSA

Federal highway safety officials have released a new report that highlights the reduced risk of fatal automobile accidents with newer motor vehicles, recommending that consumers consider improved safety features introduced in recent years when car shopping.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the new report on May 9, indicating older vehicles equipped with less safety technology and crash mitigation systems are much more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in death or severe injury.

Over the last several years, the NHTSA and other governing agencies have worked with vehicle manufacturers to improve vehicle safety technology such as autonomous braking systems, forward collision warning, lane departure warnings and blind spot detection. The results of the study indicate that newer vehicles which contain some, if not all, of these safety technologies are involved in fewer fatal crashes.

Researchers pulled crash data from the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico from 2012 through 2016. The study classified a fatal motor vehicle crash involving any accident that resulted in the death of an occupant within 30 days of the crash.

The vehicle age groups were divided into 0-3 years old, 4-7 years, 8-11 years, 12-14 years, 15-17 years, and 18 years and over in age. The results found that the percentage of occupants who were fatally injured increased as the vehicle age increased. Specifically, the ranges showed an increase of 27 percent for 0–3 age group, 33 percent increase for 4-7, 37 percent increase for 8-11, 41 percent increase from 12-14, 44 percent increase from 15-17 and 50 percent for 18+ age group.

Researchers identified a direct correlation that the older a vehicle became, the more crash fatalities that were associated with those vehicles. Much of the theory behind this correlation is the lack of modern day safety features and failing older parts such as airbags.

The report was released just in time for the beginning of the busiest car buying season of the year to warn consumers that they should be making their investments in new vehicles based on safety.

The NHTSA simultaneously released a pocket shopping guide for new vehicle consumers to refer to when choosing a vehicle with the proper safety technology. The pocket reference is intended to assist consumers understand the difference between all of the driver assistance technologies and make and informative decision.

Along with the pocket guide, the agency has also posted its 5-Star Safety Ratings on their website at NHTSA.gov that indicated how vehicles perform in crash tests.

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