Avoid Death Traps – Used Cars and Driver Fatality

DSCF0089-300x225Your teenager just got a drivers license and is bugging you for a car.   Eventually you agree and begin looking for an old used car, a training vehicle bound to get scratched and bent here and there until your teenager gets more experience.  You settle on an old 1994 Chevrolet Camaro for less than two hundred dollars.  A car-mechanic friend inspects the Camaro and thinks it’s in good shape and will do as a learning vehicle.  You get the key and can’t wait to see the happy face of your teenager.

Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer warns:  you just put your child in a death trap.

According to CDC,  “six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.”

When choosing a car for an inexperienced driver, safety should be the primary concern.  Budget limitations aside, a newer car usually incorporates updated or newer safety technologies.  The best buy would be the newest model that has the best safety features available on the market your money can buy.  The most important features include curtain airbags, electronic stability control, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.  Having these key safety features may make a difference between life and death.

Older cars have fewer safety features, and some older cars are just too dangerous to drive.  For example, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the Chevrolet Camaro has the highest on-road death, three-times higher than average.  The Chevrloet Camaro is not alone.  Several other cars are just as dangerous.

Over the last ten years, cars have become safer, with vehicle redesign incorporating safety technologies and features.  In a 2006 study, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety estimates that “there were 7,700 fewer driver deaths in 2012 than there would have been had vehicle designs not changed.”   The same study found that “by the 2009 model year, car driver fatality risk had declined 51% from its high in 1994, pickup driver fatality risk had declined 61% from its high in 1988, and SUV risk had declined 79% from its high in 1988.”  Even one year difference can have a significant difference.  The risk of “driver death in 2009 model passenger vehicles was 8% lower than that in 2008 models and about half that in 1984 models.”

The average rate for all vehicles is going down over time.  For example, the average driver death rate in 1989-93 models during 1990-94 was 110 per million registered vehicle years.  These rates changed for 1999-2002 models, the average rate declining to 87 per million, and it is going down with the better design and additional safety features, and now it’s down to 79.

According to Insurance statistics, the chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle “have fallen by more than a third in three years.”   According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, among 2011 models, “nine vehicles have driver death rates of zero.”

Among the safest cars are SUVs, which a decade ago had one of the highest rates of death due to their height.  With electronic stability control, the risk of rollover crashes decreased significantly.  “The rollover death rate of 5 per million registered vehicle years for 2011 models is less than a quarter of what it was for 2004 models.”

Among today’s cars there are some that are safer then others in case of an accident.  The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has compiled statistics about Driver deaths by make and model.

Going back to buying a car for your teen.  Check recommendations from U.S. News and World ReportJD Power, and Illinois Institute for Highway Safety.

We hope your teen is safe and will never need a personal injury attorney.  However, if you do have questions or need assistance, contact our Chicago personal injury law firm.