A new study by two researchers of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 2008 to 2012 and found an alarming pattern among teenagers who have died in car accidents: of all drivers between 15 and 17 years old who died in accidents during this four-year period, nearly one-third were driving small cars and nearly one-half (overlapping included) were driving cars which were at least eleven years old.
Of course, these statistics are a partial reflection of the average cars of teenagers, who are much more likely to driver older and/or smaller vehicles than their middle-aged counterparts. The researchers cited a May 2014 study which found that as much as 60% of the cars driven by teenagers are at least eight years old, and the cars of over 80% of the new study’s deceased drivers were at least six years old. The general claim is that older, smaller vehicles are less safe, and this is at least somewhat supported by the evidence; the researchers also noted that, on average, larger vehicles in accidents lead to fewer deaths than smaller ones, and vehicles with higher crash-test ratings correlate to fewer deaths, as well.
Affordability seems the obvious reason for so many teenagers driving old, beat-up cars, but the cars of middle-aged drivers are not always safer; while 3% of teens’ cars had standard electronic stability control, the figure was only slightly higher (7%) for adults’ cars. Standard side airbags were present in 12% of teens’ cars, but only 14% of adults’ cars.
According to the IIHS, it takes about three decades for a brand-new safety feature of a car to become standard in over 95% of all cars on the road. At this rate, electronic stability controls and side airbags may not be part of the average teenager’s car until the mid-2020s!
However, there is also progress being made at an exponential rate: while less than 30% of new vehicles had standard electronic stability controls in 2005, this jumped all the way to 91% by 2010. There are many such efforts underway to bring standard safety features to cars as early as possible, and they will certainly make a dent sooner rather than later in this supposed thirty-year wait.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based car accidentlaw firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.