Compassionate Counsel. Committed Advocacy

Are newer vehicles safer than older ones?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Car Accidents

It’s common to hear people say, “They don’t make them like they used to” when they’re praising the design of an old car. In many ways this is true: They don’t make them like they used to. In many ways, this is a good thing.

We might admire the look of old cars and feel less enthusiastic about the look of a new vehicle, but there is no question about it: New cars are built to be much safer than older vehicles ever were. Unfortunately, despite all these improvements, the risks are great for people on Louisiana roadways.

Safety features make a difference

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, advances in safety technology over the past few decades have made a huge difference for drivers and their passengers. NHTSA researchers calculated that vehicle safety features saved more than 27,000 lives in 2012 alone. Going back to the introduction of seatbelts, the NHTSA found that safety features saved only about 115 lives in 1960. The NHTSA claims the average family car in 2012 carried a 56% lower fatality rate than a similar car in the late 1950s.

To compare some more recent statistics, note that the NHTSA found the fatality rate for passenger vehicle occupants in 1997 was 17.81 per 100,000 registered vehicles. Just 10 years later, that number had dropped to 10. The NHTSA believes this change is largely attributable to the more widespread use of airbags, proximity sensors and other modern safety features in newer vehicles.

Unfortunate factors

There are a couple factors that take the shine off these promising statistics. The first is that these safety features have driven up costs. The average car today is much more expensive than the average car was 25 years ago. As a result, many families in Louisiana are driving older vehicles that are less safe.

The other factor is very dark indeed. After several years in which the number of traffic fatalities declined in the United States, the number began rising in 2020 and has continued. The NHTSA reported that last year’s motor vehicle fatality rate hit a 15-year high. Data from the first quarter of this year hit the highest quarterly level since 2002.

Researchers believe these worrying increases are the result of riskier behavior by many drivers.

Help for the injured

When you put all this information together, we’re left with a situation in which new cars are safer than ever, but many drivers are driving less safely. The best safety features in the world can’t always protect people from careless drivers. Those who have been injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence can speak to a personal injury attorney about their options for recovering compensation.