New research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology states that there is a relationship between a person’s educational background and their likelihood of getting in an accident. Although traffic and car safety has improved since the 90s, research has shown that certain groups are getting into more accidents than others.
Who Is At Risk of Injury?
The research showed that individuals over the age of 25 that did not complete their high school education are the most likely to get into a fatal car accident.
It seems that people with higher levels of education, meaning any type of college degree, are less likely to get into a car accident.
The diagram, obtained from the Washington Post, shows the correlation between levels of education and car accident deaths.
So, why are people with less education in more danger of getting in an accident?
It’s Not Just Education
Although the study focuses on the relationship between education and accidents, it does explain that education is not the only factor. Here are some other factors that increase risk of accidents, and coincide with less education.
- Vehicle Safety: normally, a college education leads to higher paying jobs. This often means that those people are driving more expensive vehicles, which are often newer and safer models. Older vehicles have lower crash test ratings, and do not have things such as side air bags, automatics warnings, and rear cameras.
- Unsafe Neighborhoods: people with less education often live in poorer neighborhoods and rural communities. These communities have experienced a decline in trauma centers, and dangerous accidents are worsened by fewer and less equipped hospitals. These areas also have more hazardous streets, and often have inadequate speed bumps, sidewalks, crosswalks, stop signs, and other necessary features.
Issues such as reluctance to wear seatbelts, speeding, and driving under the influence are not said to be results of less education. Driver’s education is required by all drivers, and whether certain areas receive inadequate drivers education is unknown.
What to Look For in a Vehicle
Although the study discusses education and accidents, the most important factor that influences vehicle accidents is the type of vehicle involved.
Even on a budget, there are certain things that can be found in cheaper cars that are necessary safety features.
- Airbags: although all vehicles require airbags, adaptive dual-stage airbags only became standard for vehicles in 2007. These airbags can detect the weight of a passenger and which seats are occupied, causing less injury to the driver in the case of an accident. Models before 2003 will not have this feature, causing potential injury from airbags. Side airbags are also a great safety feature, although they are usually available in more expensive vehicles.
- Antilock Brakes: these brakes are an important safety feature when it comes to driving in unsafe weather conditions. When you must slam on the break in a storm, or make a hard brake, the anti-lock brakes prevent the wheels from locking up. This is done through sensors on the wheels, and allows drivers to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Traction Control: Most of these systems use the vehicle’s anti-lock brake system to brake the spinning wheel for a moment, which sends the power to the opposite drive wheel. Electronic stability control helps keep the vehicle on its intended path when driving fast or in severe weather. This system goes by different names depending on the type of vehicle you drive, for instance, Honda calls it the vehicle stability assist and Volvo calls it dynamic stability traction control. This system became standard on vehicles made in or after 2012.
- Seatbelt features: Seatbelt pretensioners instantly retract the belts during a frontal impact. Some vehicles offer inflatable safety belts for backseat passengers. This is a great feature when traveling with children, because in the event of an accident, the belts inflate and expand, giving more protection.
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): this system makes child-seat instillation easier and much more secure, and it is now required in all vehicles.
- Accident avoidance systems: systems such as cruise control, brake assist, blind spot warning, backup camera, tire pressure monitor, forward collision avoidance, and lane departure warning are all useful safety features, many of which are available in more expensive and newer vehicle models.
For more on important vehicle safety features, check out Consumer Reports’ guide.