A 'Safe Pick' is a vehicle that’s not only gained the top safety rating for the people inside but also does a great job protecting other road users. It must also be equipped with Electronic Stability Control, a life-saving technology that can prevent many crashes.
Later model Volkswagen Transporters, Hyundai iLoad, Isuzu D-Max and Mercedes Benz Sprinter all gain the top safety rating and 'Safe Pick' status.
One of the great findings from the 2016 Used Car Safety Ratings was that a whole load of utes and vans emerged with 5-star ‘excellent’ ratings, with five of these also scoring ‘Safe Pick’ status. The vans were the best, with newer European designs leading the way. Up until now this segment had performed badly.
The utes were more of a mixed bag and only one of the five-star performers was awarded a ‘Safe Pick’. This is because these vehicle types are often inherently aggressive to other road users due to their structure, with many being built on a ladder chassis with high fronts.
How do we calculate the Used Car Safety Ratings?
The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) produces the Used Car Safety Ratings. For over 20 years they’ve gone through millions of Australian and New Zealand police accident reports. By studying injury rates in these crashes, they’ve built up a huge database of which cars are the safest.
The Used Car Safety Ratings measure three aspects of safety performance:
How a vehicle protects its occupants.
It estimates the risk of death or serious injury to the driver in a crash.
It is relevant to injury outcomes in about 90 per cent of crashes. The exceptions are those involving an unprotected road user (pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist).
How well a vehicle protects other road users in a crash including other vehicle occupants, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The risk of death or serious injury to another vehicle driver, pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclists in a crash.
Is relevant to injury outcomes in crashes where another light vehicle or unprotected road user (pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist) is involved. About 55 per cent of crashes.
Total Secondary Safety:
Combines crashworthiness and aggressivity to give an overall injury rating in a crash.
Estimates the risk of death or serious injury to all road users, including vehicle drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
All these factors are looked at and calculated to give us a one to five star score which makes it easy to see at a glance which cars are safer.
And then we add in the 'Safe Pick' for the very best performers.
What makes a one vehicle safer than another?
Good safety design in cars is massively important in reducing risk of death or injury. Things like crumple zones, collapsible steering columns, reinforced door frames, front, side and curtain airbags all help to minimise crash forces.
Overall safety depends on how many of these features are present and how well they are designed and work together to protect people from injury in a crash.
These safety features have become more common over the years which is why, in general, it is better to buy the newest car you can afford.
The average risk of death or serious injury to the driver in a crash in a 2014 car is nearly 50 per cent less than in a 1996 car.
The average risk of death or serious injury to the driver in a crash in a post 2010 car is over 70 per cent less than in a car manufactured prior to 1970.
Newer designs and safety features have improved safety on average. In addition, newer vehicles have to comply with a wider range of standards (e.g. ADR 69, 72 & 73).
Written by Nicholas Platt, Senior Vehicle Engineer September 16, 2016