New Analysis: Fatality rate four times higher in an older vehicle

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·         Fatalities in older vehicles are four times higher than in new vehicles.

·         Old vehicles are involved in one third of fatal car crashes (but make up just 20 per cent of road vehicles).

·         RACV encourages first car buyers to make vehicle safety their top priority.


Analysis showing that the fatality rate in older vehicles is four times higher than in new vehicles has prompted RACV to renew calls for young drivers to drive the newest, safest car they can afford.

The analysis by ANCAP, Australia and New Zealand’s independent vehicle safety advocate, shows older vehicles are over-represented in fatality crashes.

Michael Case, RACVs manager, vehicle engineering, said the analysis shows that driving the safest car you can afford can be a matter of life and death.

“We encourage young people and anyone helping young people buy their first car to put safety as their number one priority,” Mr Case says.

The analysis of the Australian vehicle fleet shows that while older vehicles [built in 2000 or earlier] account for just 20 per cent of the registered vehicle fleet, they are involved in 33 per cent of occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles and SUVs.

Newer vehicles (those built 2011-2016) make up 31 per cent of the fleet yet are involved in just 13 per cent of fatality crashes.

“It is concerning that the rate of fatal crashes is four times higher for older vehicles than for new vehicles,” says ANCAP Chief Executive Officer James Goodwin.

“We’ve been tracking the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash, and in just one year we’ve seen that average increase from 12.5 years to 12.9 years. This highlights the need for a renewed national focus and greater support for safer vehicles,” Mr Goodwin said.

The over-representation of older vehicles in fatal crashes is similar in New Zealand where the average age of the vehicle fleet is 14.3 years and the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash is 15.6 years.

“It is unfortunate we tend to see our most at-risk drivers – the young and inexperienced, as well as the elderly and more frail – in the most at-risk vehicles, and we hope this test promotes a conversation to encourage all motorists to consider the safety of their car,” Mr Goodwin says.

“Safety is not a luxury and we want everyone to remain safe on the road, so consumers should look for the safest car they can afford and the safest car that suits their needs.”


"The older car sustained catastrophic structural failure...

The analysis was revealed earlier this year as ANCAP unveiled the results of a car-to-car crash test which dramatically demonstrates the improvements made in vehicle safety over the past two decades (see the video below).

“The outcomes of this test are stark and the automotive, finance and insurance industries can play a part to assist in encouraging people into newer, safer cars.”

The frontal offset test, which replicates a head-on crash, was conducted at 64km/h.

“The older car sustained catastrophic structural failure with the test dummy readings showing an extremely high risk of serious head, chest and leg injury to the driver. It achieved a score of just 0.40 out of 16 points – zero stars.”

“In contrast, the current model performed very well with a five-star level of protection offered, scoring 12.93 out of 16 points,” says Mr Goodwin.

“We encourage those looking for a first car to consider safety as their top priority. You don’t have to buy a brand new car, look for a vehicle that is five years or under. Make sure it has a 5-star ANCAP rating,” Mr Goodwin says.

Written by RACV
May 15, 2017