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Used Car Safety Ratings provide you with the crash safety rating for the driver. They show you how well each vehicle protects its driver from death or serious injury in a crash.
It is also important that your vehicle offers good protection to other road users with which it might collide, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, or the drivers of other vehicles. For example, the crash statistics analysed by Monash University indicate that many large SUVs are more likely to cause serious injuries to other road users in a crash than most other vehicles.
Those vehicles which provide excellent protection from injury for their own drivers as well as for other road users in the crash receive a "Safe Pick" rating. If you are serious about reducing road trauma, you need to consider how your vehicle protects other road users as well as you, the driver.
Records from over 5 million vehicles in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand between 1996 and 2010 were analysed by Monash University Accident Research Centre. The ratings were calculated using an internationally reviewed method and are influenced by the vehicle's mass, the structural design of the body, and the safety features fitted to the vehicle, such as airbags and types of seat belts.
Each of the driver protection ratings in the 2012 update has been recalculated based on the most recent crash data available so they are not comparable with the ratings published in previous years. Models of vehicles that cause lower injuries to other road users with which they collide, including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, as well as providing excellent protection for their own driver, are awarded the "Safe Pick" label.
The score for each individual model can be compared against the ratings for all other vehicles.
The driver protection ratings are about the risk of death or serious injury to the driver of the vehicle in the event of a crash. The ratings are not about the risk of being involved in the crash in the first place, which is generally determined by a range of factors including driver behaviour, vehicle condition and the road environment.
Question: Won't certain kinds of vehicles score a good rating because of the types of people who drive them or where they are driven?
Answer: These factors were taken into account as much as possible when the data were analysed. The ratings were adjusted for factors such as driver gender and age, type of road user involved, speed limit at the crash location, number of vehicles involved, crash configuration, and year and location of crash.
New car safety ratings (eg ANCAP) are determined by crash testing vehicles in a controlled laboratory setting, but these Used Car Safety Ratings are calculated using data from millions of police reports on actual crashes involving a range of drivers and all types of driving conditions.
Occupants of heavier vehicles in real-world multi-vehicle crashes typically fare better than those in lighter vehicles. This is why ANCAP crash test results should not be compared among vehicles with large weight differences. In many single-vehicle crashes, greater weight offers no safety advantage. ANCAP crash test ratings relate to both occupant protection and the ability of the car to avoid a crash. ANCAP has a separate rating for a vehicle's ability to protect a pedestrian in a crash.
The Used Car Safety Ratings can be compared across all categories as they are derived from reports of actual on-road crashes and represent the ability of the car to protect its driver.
The "Safe Pick"' vehicles further identify vehicles that provide the best protection for both their own occupants and other road users in a crash.
Any vehicle safety rating system can only provide an indication of the relative levels of protection between vehicles you can expect in the event of a crash. Whether or not you die or are seriously injured in a crash also depends on how safely you drive your vehicle.
Myth: You can take more risks if you've got a vehicle with safety features - they will save you in a crash.
Fact: While safety features are more likely to increase your chances of surviving a crash, they don't make you indestructible. Safety features won't necessarily save you from death or serious injury, particularly at higher speeds or if you're not wearing your seat belt.
Myth: A safe vehicle is more expensive.
Fact: Many reasonably priced vehicle models score very well in the safety ratings and better than some of the more expensive models.
Myth: Older vehicles tend to be bigger and heavier, and therefore safer.
Fact: Older vehicles have been shown from crash records to be less safe on average than newer vehicles, due to fewer safety features and less sophisticated design.
To find out more about used car safety ratings, read our brochure. (pdf 2.6mb)