Holding Off On Buying a Newer Vehicle? You May Want to Consider This Data

New Car, Old Car

We all know that newer vehicles are typically safer due to advancements in safety technology, but just how much safer are they?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published data on vehicle model year and its relationship to fatal injury numbers. People who drive vehicles whose model years are between 1985 and 1992 are 76% more likely to be fatally injured. Those that drive cars with model years 2003-2007 are 20% more likely to be fatally injured than those in newer models.

Here is a quick breakdown of vehicle year models and their corresponding likelihood of fatal injuries:

Vehicle Model YearMore Likely to be Fatally Injured
2008-2012Baseline
2003-200720%
1998-200232%
1993-199741%
1985-199276%

Although the likeliness of fatality goes up significantly for older vehicle models, the same cannot be said about fatality rate of unrestrained occupants.

Basically, if you’re not buckled in, it doesn’t really matter what model year your vehicle is.

Percentage of people killed while unrestrained remained fairly average ~76-78% for vehicles age 3-19.

When we look at the average age of a light vehicle in U.S., we’ll find that it sits right in the middle of the 1998-2002 model year bracket (at 11.4 years). A significant number of people can potentially increase their likelihood of surviving a terrible accident just by purchasing a newer vehicle. Of course, restraints would have to be used for a new vehicle to be any more effective than an older one – as supported by new data.

Other ways to decrease the likelihood of injuries and or fatalities include:

  • Using seat belts
  • Avoiding driving under the influence
  • Avoiding driving while sleepy/drowsy
  • Avoiding distractions
  • Not eating or drinking while driving

See complete list of 2013-2014 IIHS top safety picks (excluding Tesla Model S).

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