Safety experts and researchers often discuss various elements contributing to traffic accidents on California highways. But, one factor that isn’t highlighted enough is how the vehicle’s age and condition contribute to road risk.
Factors that contribute to traffic accidents
No two accidents are the same, but there are common risk factors that make one more susceptible to motor vehicle accidents. According to a National Highway Safety Commission study, more than half of collisions could be attributed to distracted drivers. The second most common factor is speed, followed by impaired and reckless driving in that order.
In addition to these risk factors is age, both when referring to the age of the vehicles and their drivers. For example, 16 – 19 year-olds make up less than 4% of all licensed drivers on the road, yet they are responsible for more than double that percentage of motor vehicle accidents. Drivers over 70 are generally safer drivers than any other demographic. But like teen and low-income drivers, they are more likely to operate older vehicles and more vulnerable on the roadways.
The problem with older vehicles
The same study found that older vehicles tend to be owned and operated by individuals who are statistically more likely to have poor outcomes when they are involved in accidents. Teens and low-income drivers are inclined to either purchase older used vehicles that are more affordable or be gifted a second-hand car from a relative.
Older drivers tend to hang on to their vehicles for years after important features are outdated rather than purchasing newer models. Outdated vehicles also exhibit more wear, making replacement parts difficult to find.
This adds an extra layer of vulnerability.
Some solutions to reduce the risks posed by older vehicles
Authors of the study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Research and Prevention advocate for making less expensive vehicles safer. However, cost continues to be a prohibitive factor in upgrading safety features and purchasing late-model cars.
One suggestion is creating programs focusing on driver safety as a public health issue. Through such programs, at-risk or low-income drivers can access databases to finance repairs or buy newer, safer vehicles.