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Study Suggests Older Vehicles More Likely To Lead to Teen Fatalities

01/20/2015
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Handing down the old family clunker to the teen driver in your household should be a tradition of years past, according to a new study.

Older vehicles driven by freshly licensed 15, 16 and 17 year old drivers were involved in nearly half of all fatal teen automobile accidents, said the study’s authors, who analyzed an approximate 2,400 teens between 2008 and 2012. That percentage – 48, to be exact – reflects cars at least a decade old.

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The reason for the startling statistics involves safety, or lack thereof. Older cars are not equipped with the high-tech features of today’s four-wheelers, such as airbags, electronic stability control and proper seatbelts.

“Given teenagers’ elevated crash rates, it is especially important that their vehicles have key safety features and good crash protection,” said the abstract, published in the journal Injury Prevention. “Parents should consider safety when choosing vehicles for their teenagers.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute knows a brand-new BMW or even a decent Chevy are beyond the budgets of most parents. In fact, a national survey the institute conducted of parents with teen drivers found 83 percent bought used vehicles instead of new. As a result, it compiled a list of used vehicles meeting important safety standards that can help prevent deaths on the road.

The institute also issued the following recommendations for teen-driving safety:

  • High school and high horsepower don’t mix. “More powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits,” according to the IIHS.
  • Bigger rides with more weight are safer than fuel-friendly minicars. No minicars or compact vehicles made the IIHS list.

Electronic stability control is essential. The feature enables drivers to control their vehicle around curves and wet conditions.

“We know that many parents cannot afford a new vehicle,” Anne McCartt, author of the IIHS study, told NBCNews.com in a story titled “That Cheap Old Car Might Carry Deadly Cost for Teens: Study.” “Our message to parents is to get the most safety they can afford.”

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