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Putting safety first does not restrict car choice

13 AUGUST, 2009

The 2009 Used Car Safety Ratings results show that drivers don’t have to limit their options when looking to buy a safer car.

The results, released today at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, show that from small cars to large cars, there are vehicles with excellent or good safety ratings in every market group.

The Used Car Safety Ratings study is conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) with support from the RACV, VicRoads, Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and other state and federal road authorities and motoring clubs.

It is the largest study of its kind in the world and highlights significant safety gaps between the best and worst performing used cars.

MUARC senior researcher Stuart Newstead said the team analysed data from 3.6 million vehicles and more than 740,000 injured road users involved in real crashes in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Newstead said the results show there is a choice of safer used cars across all market groups.

“From small cars to larger cars, to commercial vans, there is a safer choice for every driver.”

“We have rated 239 vehicles and 118 of those are excellent or good. Many Australian-made cars scored above average but European and Japanese cars were dominant among the best performers,” Dr Newstead said.

The TAC’s Road Safety Manager Samantha Cockfield said this year’s ratings included assessment of the combined safety of each car, both for other road users with which the vehicle collides as well as for its own occupants.

“People often only consider vehicle safety from the perspective of how the vehicle will protect them as an occupant in a crash,” Ms Cockfield said.

However, a vehicle’s performance in protecting other road users in a collision is also vitally important in reducing the overall injury burden in a crash. These ratings reflect a vehicle’s ability to protect all people involved in a crash, giving a better assessment of the total community impact of the vehicle’s safety,” Ms Cockfield said.

“So a vehicle with excellent protection for its occupants, will only be rated in the best categories if it does not pose too much of a risk of injury or death to other road users in a collision.”

“This is reflected in the Crash Safety Ratings, with more small and medium cars having a good or excellent result.”

“If we are serious about reducing road trauma, we need to consider how any vehicle we purchase protects all road users, not just its own occupants.”

“A car that protects everyone in society, as well as its own occupants, is a good car for society,” Ms Cockfield said.

The RACV’s Chief Engineer- Vehicles Michael Case said the results showed drivers didn’t have to dig deep for safety.

“With many small and medium cars continuing to receive an excellent rating, there’s no need to skimp on safety,” Mr Case said.

“Many small cars also achieved a good safety rating, so there are plenty of options for those on a tight budget when looking for a used car.”

“This means even young drivers on the lookout for their first car, can afford a safe vehicle,” Mr Case said.

However Mr Case said the age of the car was an important factor in its safety rating.

“The survey results brochure lists cars from 1992-2007 and the pre-1995 models dominate the worst performers,” Mr Case said.

“This highlights the gains in car safety made in recent years and is important to consider for your next car purchase.”

VicRoads Ross McArthur said for the second year, the results had been listed in a brochure to make it easier for drivers to consider their options.

“We encourage consumers to use this brochure to purchase vehicles that will protect the car’s occupants and other road users and help minimise road trauma,” Mr McArthur said.

Since the UCSR study was first conducted by MUARC in 1990, it has grown to become the largest of its type in the world. Ratings incorporating New Zealand crash data were produced for the first time in 2004.

Some of this year’s vehicles highest rating vehicles are:


Ford Focus 05-07 (From $8K)

Chrysler Neon 96-99 (From $2K)

Peugeot 307 01-07 (From $6.5K)


Honda Accord Euro (From $15K)

VW Passat 98-06 (From$5K)

SAAB 9-3 94-02 (From $5K)

Subaru Liberty 03-07 (From $9.5K)

Mazda 6 02-07 (From $9.5K)

Commercial Van:

Ford Transit 01-07 (From $6.5K)

People Mover:

Mitsubishi Nimbus 99-03 (From $7.5K)

Compact 4WD:

Honda CRV 02-07 (From $8K)

Subaru Forester 97-02 (From $5K)


Media contacts:

TAC:           Emily Bogue                 0429 416 778
MUARC:      Dr Stuart Newstead       0417 104 497
VicRoads:    Bree Taylor                 0400 890 993
RACV:         Jo Robertson               0407 910 278

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