All new cars sold in Australia have to meet minimum specified safety standards, and over the years, the safety of new cars has continued to improve. The average safety rating of new cars sold in Australia in 2009 was 4.5 stars compared with 4 stars in 2004.
Data reveals that people involved in crashes in cars manufactured between 2003 and 2005 are on average around 45% less likely to be killed or seriously injured than those in cars manufactured in 1980. Newer cars perform even better in crashes.
In a crash situation, different cars offer varying levels of occupant protection. Car manufacturers can include different combinations of features which impact on the safety of your car. These safety features are generally grouped into three categories:
Driver and passenger protection depends on your car's structure, its driver and passenger restraints and related protection devices working together as an integrated system.
Essential safety features include
- A strong cabin that can withstand severe impacts
- Crumple zones outside the cabin to absorb the forces exerted in a car crash
- Effective restraint of drivers and passengers to reduce the likelihood of injury from interior features of the car, to prevent ejection from the car and to reduce the potential for soft tissue injury such as whiplash
You can make much more informed decisions about how well different cars will protect you in a crash and how manufacturers have integrated safety features by referring to the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) ratings and Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR).