How to Drive Safely With an Older Vehicle

We all know that buying a vehicle can be incredibly expensive. Whether it’s something simple such as a 5-door family car or even a pickup truck that offers a lot of features and space, buying a car can be a huge investment. You have to think about paying for insurance, repairs, maintenance and possibly even tax. With so much to think about, it’s no wonder that many people are buying used vehicles instead of brand new ones. This saves a lot of money in the long run, but it could also be dangerous for new drivers.

Many new vehicles come with safety features such as automated braking, lane detection computers and a whole host of new technology that promises to reduce crash rates and improve the chances of survival in a devastating crash. However, when you purchase an older vehicle, there’s a very low chance that it will come with these safety features. As a result, you might be putting yourself at risk for the sake of saving money. Sadly, this is a compromise you have to make because new cars are generally harder to find used and at a decent price.

In situations like this, you might be discouraged and feel like you can’t buy a vehicle anymore if you care about your safety. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that will allow you to drive a vehicle, no matter the age, and still stay safe.

We didn’t always have safety features

Keep in mind that the use of these safety features wasn’t around until recently. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a massive surge of safety systems and features that have helped us create new and improved cars that can save our lives. However, in the past, they didn’t have features such as automatic braking, collision warnings or even pedestrian detection. Yet, even with these advanced features that have been developed to save lives, the rate of accidents and fatalities in the United States alone has been increasing. In fact, 2015 saw around 4.4 million people injured on US roads and around 38,000 people dying as a result of a car crash. Even with all of these safety features, it doesn’t mean you’re a safer driver. People have driven for decades with just their instincts, skills and awareness. Don’t let the lack of safety features put you off. If anything, it will teach you to become a better driver because you need to rely on yourself instead of a computer that could ultimately fail or detect something incorrectly. Put your life in your own hands, not in the hands of a computer!

Your awareness means more than any safety feature

Even with safety features, there’s only so much they can actually do to help your vehicle. People that don’t pay attention to the road are the ones that suffer from accidents, crashes and collisions. Lawyers like Craig Swapp and Associates fully understand the complications that arise when a vehicle has its safety systems enabled, yet the driver still manages to crash the vehicle. Although the safety features reduce insurance costs, it can ultimately have a negative impact when you’re trying to explain to a judge how you neglected to actually use those safety features that could’ve prevented a crash. Your awareness and experience should be valued higher than any kind of safety feature your car has. The thing with experience is that it’s cumulative. For example, if you’ve driven for five years, then you’ll usually have more experience than someone who has only driven for two years. Those five years of driving will have shown you some nasty situations, it’ll have taught you how to avoid them in the future, and you’ll understand the importance of safe driving. However, if you don’t have this experience, then you won’t know what to do when cars around you are speeding up, when someone behind you is trying to overtake you, or how dangerous it is to drive slowly in relation to everyone else.


Keep your vehicle well maintained

Another important consideration to make when driving an old car is the condition of the vehicle. If the pressure in the wheels isn’t set correctly, or if you neglected to replace them after buying the vehicle used, then you might be in for a nasty surprise when one of them punctures during a drive. Make sure you take your vehicle to a maintenance shop as soon as possible to get it checked by a specialist. Ensure you replace all of the degrading parts and upgrade any kind of computer systems if possible. This will give you peace of mind when driving your vehicle and ultimately improve your safety. No one wants to drive a battered old vehicle that’s falling apart, but that’s what you’ll usually get if you neglect to inspect a used vehicle. Make sure your safety is a priority and keep the vehicle well maintained for safety reasons.

Some final words

Don’t be discouraged if the vehicle you want to buy doesn’t come with the regular safety features that you expect it to come with. If it’s missing things like pedestrian tracking or parking assists, then don’t be too alarmed and treat it as an opportunity to learn how to drive your vehicle properly. This is especially important if you’re a new driver because you don’t want to rely on these systems as a crutch. Make sure you learn how to drive safely the proper way by increasing your experience, improving your confidence and practising on a regular basis.

Driving safely with an older vehicle just means that more of your safety is in your own control. If you don’t want to end up in an accident, then practice good safety habits and consider taking a course in defensive driving if you want to learn how to avoid other dangerous drivers. Keep your eyes on the road, avoid making more distractions with electronics or smartphones, and do your best to stay out of trouble.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.