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Testing shows dangers of older vehicles

Analysis by the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has revealed the high incidence of fatalities in the occupants of older vehicles – and new testing has dramatically demonstrated the improvements in safety during the past 20 years.

​Tasmania has the oldest vehicle fleet in the nation, and the RACT's vehicle safety policy strongly advocates for buying the safest vehicle you can afford.

"Improving the average safety level of vehicles on Tasmania's roads will significantly reduce fatalities and serious injuries resulting from crashes," RACT general manager, Member Assist, Darren Moody said.

​"This new ANCAP testing highlights the need for Tasmanians to be more aware of what they are buying when purchasing a vehicle and the impact of that vehicle on our roads."

ANCAP analysis of the Australian vehicle fleet shows that while older vehicles (those built in the year 2000 or earlier) account for just 20% of the registered vehicle fleet, they're involved in 33% of fatality crashes*. In contrast, newer vehicles (those built 2011-2016) make up 31% of the fleet yet are involved in just 13% of fatality crashes.

"It is concerning the rate of fatal crashes is four times higher for older vehicles than for new vehicles," ANCAP CEO James 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.

"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."

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

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"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."

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

* Occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles & SUVs.