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Older cars are less safe, says report

A research paper released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates a negative correlation between the age of a car and how safe it is to drive. Specifically, the driver of a vehicle that is more than 17 years old faces a 71 percent increase in the risk of a fatal accident than a driver behind the wheel of a car that is three years old or less. These statistics may be especially sobering for Pennsylvania parents who would like their teenage drivers to be safe behind the wheel of an older vehicle.

The NHTSA study focused only on traffic fatalities and did not provide statistics regarding accident injuries. With regard to crash deaths, the risk increases with the age of the vehicle. A driver behind the wheel of a vehicle that is between four and seven years old has a 10 percent higher risk of dying in a crash than the driver of a vehicle that is three years old or less. The driver of a car between 8 and 11 years old has a 19 percent higher risk.

The study controlled for factors such as time of day, type of road, driver age and blood alcohol concentration. In addition to the age of the vehicle, whether or not seat belts were worn has a serious impact on driving safety. Indeed, drivers who did not wear seat belts essentially negated the increased safety of newer vehicles. For those drivers, the risk of death in a crash ranged from 78 percent down to 72 percent, regardless of the age of the car.

Individuals who have suffered injuries in car accidents caused by the negligence of another driver might want to meet with an attorney to discuss how to proceed. The attorney could attempt to negotiate an appropriate settlement with the at-fault driver's insurer, but if the offer is inadequate, filing a lawsuit might be the next step.

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