A recent crash test comparison highlights the massive difference in safety of new and older model cars, supporting AADA’s arguments regarding finance contracts and insurance.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) conducted a head-on crash test between the latest Toyota Corolla hatchback and a 1998 model, and the results were frightening.

ANCAP CEO James Goodwin said the test showed the driver of the older Corolla would likely have died as a result of the 64km/h collision, whereas the driver of the latest Corolla – which has a five-star safety rating – would have sustained only minor injuries.
Older vehicles (built in the year 2000 or earlier) represent just one in five cars on our roads but are involved in one-third of fatal crashes. In contrast, newer vehicles (those built 2011-2016) make up 31 percent of the fleet, yet are involved in just 13 percent of fatal crashes.

“It is concerning that the rate of fatal crashes is four times higher for older vehicles than for new vehicles,” Mr Goodwin said.

“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.”

The data shows the average age of all vehicles on Australian roads is 9.8 years. Mr Goodwin said the statistics go some way to explaining why 17 to 25-year-olds and elderly road users (aged 65 and over) are over-represented in fatal crashes when compared to other age groups.

“Not everyone can afford a brand-new car; however, the figures show that there is less chance of being killed in a newer and safer car than an older, less safe vehicle,” he said.

“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 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 Sydney’s CrashLab. The Toyota Corollas used in the crash test were bought privately from car Dealers by ANCAP.

The 1998 Corolla was a one-owner vehicle with a good service history. It had travelled 130,000km and had never been involved in a crash, so was structurally indicative of a car from that era. The latest model Corolla was an ex-rental car that had done 29,000km, indicative of near-new used cars for sale.

“The older car sustained catastrophic structural failure, with 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,” Mr Goodwin said.

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

President of the Australasian College of Road Safety and former Chairman of ANCAP, Lauchlan McIntosh, said, “No-one has a 1998 telephone – not a young person or an old person – so why would you have a 1998 car?”

“There are a lot of people who have made a conscious decision to put their kids in a better car, and a lot of older people buy a five-star car – but there are still a lot of young people who, unfortunately, don’t see a five-star car as important, yet they’ve got the latest telephone.”

Car safety: then and now

1998 Toyota Corolla
Price when new: $23,000
Price today: $4,500
Safety:    No driver’s airbag, no anti-skid brakes (they were part of a $990 option pack).

2015 Toyota Corolla
Price when new: $23,000
Price today: $16,000
Safety:    Seven airbags, electronic stability control, anti-skid brakes, rear view camera, force limiting seat belts, seat belt pre-tensioners. Automatic emergency braking optional.

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