NHTSA says newer model year vehicles are safer

Heidi King: NHTSA shopping guide will help simplify driver-assistance technologies. Photo credit: Courtesy of the Energy and Commerce Committee

Newer model year vehicles are safer and less likely to kill passengers, according to data NHTSA released Wednesday.

The analysis — which examined the relationship between vehicle age and crash-injury severity — found that a greater proportion of deaths happened in older vehicles.

The federal regulator used data from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 2012-16. To be included in the fatal crash dataset, the vehicle must have traveled on a traffic way primarily open to the public, and the death must have occurred within 30 days following the crash, the report said.

NHTSA organized the vehicles involved in fatal crashes into model year groups: 1984 and earlier, 1985-92, 1993-97, 1998-2002, 2003-07, 2008-12 and 2013-17.

The percentage of occupant fatalities rose as vehicle age rose. For instance, vehicles in the 1984-and-earlier group had a 55 percent fatality rate, vs. a 26 percent rate for the 2013-17 group.

The regulator also released a shopping guide to simplify driver-assistance technologies, ranging from rear automatic braking to lane-centering assist, in a way that is easy for drivers to comprehend.

“We encourage car buyers to select vehicles that meet their individual lifestyle, budget and transportation needs with the added assurance that they are making an investment in safety,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said in a statement.

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