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Older cars are less safe

December 31, 2014

Young drivers typically drive older cars, which makes sense, as older cars tend to be cheaper. Parents are less likely to spend more money on a vehicle for a less-experienced driver. While this has been the traditional approach to new drivers, a new study by researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety discovered this might not be the safest approach.

Modern technology makes the driving experience easier.
While reviewing the U.S. government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the researchers found 82 percent of teen driving accidents happened in cars that were at least 6 years old. The study also pointed out that though older cars are larger, and therefore sturdier, they have fewer safety features.

“We know that many parents cannot afford a new vehicle,” Anne McCartt, the study's lead author, said. “Our message to parents is to get the most safety they can afford.”

Additional reasons to look into newer cars

Aside from safety features, of which there are many, new cars come with other advantages as well. Here are some examples:

  • Fuel efficiency:  Gas prices are low right now, which means families are able to save a bit more for other items. This frees up a bit extra to invest in a newer vehicle. But even then, you will be paying even less for gas. Modern cars are more fuel-efficient than older cars. So it may be a larger price up front, but with cheap gas and less gas consumption, the investment could be worth it.
  • Auto insurance: Due to modern safety features, auto insurance rates tend to be lower on modern cars. This is not a standard rule, and there are certainly times when a new vehicle will have higher insurance rates because parts are harder to replace or due to other reasons, but safety features certainly drive down the cost of insurance.
  • Modern technology:  Newer cars are equipped with technology to make the driving experience easy and comfortable. Features such as electronic stability control and video streaming in the rearview mirror, which is clearer than the standard rearview mirror, are designed to improve the driving experience. But for younger generations who have grown up with modern technology and are comfortable with it, these features are just an extension of how things are. While many older generations might see some of these features as distractions, younger generations will likely feel right at home in a newer vehicle.

When looking into a car for your child, don't look only at the price tag. Make sure the car is modern enough that it has safety features and that your child feels confidently in control. You may save money in the long run.