According to U.S. News & World Report, the average age of cars on U.S. highways is currently 11.5 years. Since 2002, the average age of vehicles on the road has been getting older. This is due to many factors, including the recession and improvements in vehicles that make them more reliable.
Many cars can run smoothly up to 200,000 miles. This means that the average car can serve its owner efficiently for over a decade.
Yet, is the presence of older cars on the road hazardous? While cars may be more reliable now than they were a decade ago, older cars are more likely to have difficulties. When cars get older, it is up to owners to keep up with repairs. Bad brakes can lead to devastating accidents. A timing belt failure can cause the car to stop running. At best, these failures slow down traffic. At worst, these issues can cause accidents, resulting in property damage, personal injuries, and even death.
Some more recent features are considered critical. For instance, older cars don’t have electronic stability control or side airbags. Electronic stability control systems prevent a car from skidding and can detect situations where a vehicle may lose traction. Older cars may not have this important safeguard which protects not only the driver behind the wheel, but also other motorists on the road.
While consumers may feel that they are saving money by driving older vehicles, they could find themselves facing expensive personal injury lawsuits, increased insurance rates, or have to pay for injuries and medical expenses resulting from accidents provoked by a poorly-maintained cars that lack essential safety features.
Safety features on newer cars, while not considered essential, can also decrease the risk of accidents. For instance, technology that allows cell phone users to go hands free, or cameras that allow drivers to more readily see behind them as they reverse the vehicle, are not common on older cars.
USA Today reports that more Americans are also keeping older cars rather than selling or scrapping them. With older cars being more reliable, cars can either be sold or kept as a back-up. In some cases, the cars are passed on to teens or to younger drivers. The unintended consequences of this practice, however, is that younger drivers may be the ones who most need the safety features of newer cars. Electronic stability control, side impact airbags, and hands free cell phone technology can protect younger drivers who may not have the experience to halt a skid and who may be more likely to get into an accident for using a cell phone while driving.
As cars get older, it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that their cars have recommended safety features and that these cars receive regular maintenance. Failure to do so can lead to tragic accidents. The Law Office Johnson & Lundgreen is a personal injury law firm in Meridian and Boise, Idaho that helps victims of car accidents seek compensation from negligent parties. If you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence, we may be able to assist you.