In August 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report that dramatically illustrated just how many lives have been saved by new vehicle safety features introduced in recent years. Not only were new vehicles found to offer the best chances of survival in a potentially fatal car accident, but as older vehicles were analyzed, the odds of survival became progressively worse.
These same results were also found in Australia. Analysis of Australian auto accident fatality statistics and car-to-car crash tests both showed that older vehicles offered poorer chances of survival. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program – an independent vehicle safety advocate organization – noted that the over-representation of older vehicles in fatal accidents had been found in New Zealand, as well.
The Implications for Consumers
The results of these studies would seem to indicate that the best and safest policy for consumers is to purchase a new vehicle every model year, with every new safety feature that is available. This is simply not possible for most car buyers – regardless of the invaluable benefits of added safety.
There is a more practical policy to be formed from the available data. The odds of survival progressively increase with newer model vehicles. Consumers may, therefore, be wise to purchase as much safety as they can afford. When buying a new vehicle is not possible, choosing the newer of two used vehicles will improve the driver’s odds of surviving an accident.
Similarly, using other available car accident data can help create the safest vehicle assignments for households with multiple drivers. For example: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in 2015, the highest auto accident fatalities per capita occurred in the age range of twenty to twenty-four years old. A household with multiple vehicles would therefore be advised to assign the newest vehicles to any drivers within this age range. Similarly, a driver who has a longer commute or covers more miles may be at increased risk for an accident, and should therefore be assigned the newer, safer household vehicle.
A Wide Range of Safety Features
Vehicle models vary widely in the safety features they employ and how effectively they employ them. Different safety features may also be the subject of accident investigations, as well as potential sources of liability for a manufacturer who negligently designed or installed them. An experienced West Palm Beach auto accident attorney will identify all possible contributing factors to an auto accident.
- Side curtain airbags are designed to reduce the impact of a side impact (the classic T-bone collision).
- Electronic stability control systems have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Using anti-lock braking technology, an electronic stability system applies the brakes on each wheel, as needed, in order to best assist the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Tire pressure monitoring systems can prevent blowouts and improve gas mileage.
- Back up cameras can reduce the risk of collision during the notoriously-risky task of reversing.
It is important for consumers to carefully research safety options in order to select those features which best suit their needs.
When a crash does occur in Florida, bear in mind that this is a no-fault state, which per F.S. 627.737 means that individuals are responsible to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that covers their own damages, typically up to $10,000 ($2,500 if they cannot prove they suffered an emergency medical condition). One may only file a tort action against the at-fault driver in cases where one suffers significant/ permanent injury, scarring/ disfigurement or death.