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Market Insight: Five-star cars ‘to save $2 billion a year’

Back then: Motor vehicles have come a long way since the 2003 Proton Jumbuck hit the wall in ANCAP testing.

ANCAP study says five-star-rated vehicles are slicing cost of serious road trauma


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11 Jun 2015

THE uptake of five-star-rated motor vehicles in Australia since 2001 is on track to cut road deaths and severe injuries by a third by 2020, according to a study paper presented by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) at an international road safety conference in Sweden this week.

The independent motor vehicle safety watchdog estimates this reduction in road trauma will save Australia more than $2 billion a year in societal costs.

The study, by a group headed by ANCAP technical manager Michael Paine, was published in a paper at the International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles in Gothenburg – the home of Volvo.

ANCAP says the results of the study validate the organisation’s public stand on vehicle safety, with every dollar spent by ANCAP resulting in the saving of several hundred dollars in societal crash costs.

The organisation has come under fire from some car-makers and media outlets in Australia who have questioned its relevance and handling of rule changes as it transitions to full Euro NCAP rules by 2018.

Data produced for the study from official VFACTS sales figures suggests that starting from scratch in 2001 when no cars had a five-star rating, 85 per cent of vehicles sold in Australia now have the maximum rating. By 2020, that should be 95 per cent.

Of course, that includes vehicles rated as five-star under previous, less stringent rating standards that are being tightened annually by ANCAP.

The organisation estimates that 34 per cent of kilometres travelled on roads by Australians are now done in five-star vehicles. As older cars are scrapped and new five-star cars become the norm, that should rise to 67 per cent by 2020.

ANCAP says the increased safety of vehicles is likely to have reduced the number of deaths and severe injuries on the roads by 17 per cent since 2001, although it cautions that data sources supporting that assumption are “very few”.

However, based on data from the Victorian Transport Accident Commission and the projected rise in five-star vehicle sales, the number of deaths and severe injuries could fall to about 66 per cent of 2001 levels by 2020.

In Victoria alone, that would result in a societal cost saving of more than $1 billion.

ANCAP chief executive officer Nicholas Clarke, who is in Sweden for the conference with other ANCAP representatives, said the risk of being killed or seriously injured on Australia's roads had been halved in the past 15 years due to safer cars.

“ANCAP has been instrumental in increasing car safety and this will only increase as ANCAP continues to raise the bar through increasing requirements,” he said.

“Every dollar invested in ANCAP translates to a saving of several hundreds of dollars in societal crash costs.

“We can expect to see similar savings across other world regions in which non-regulatory NCAP programs exist.”

Apart from the overall trends in five-star car sales and benefits, the ANCAP paper evaluates the uptake of key safety features such as curtain airbags, electronic stability control and intelligent seatbelt reminders – features that ANCAP says were strongly influenced by its safety rating system.

The paper was one of four presented by ANCAP at the conference that – although held in Sweden – is organised by the United States National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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