Every year, hundreds of people lose their lives in vehicles on our roads. Even more are seriously injured. One way of reducing the risk of death or serious injury is to travel in a safe vehicle.

Safer cars save lives

Improvements to vehicle design and safety features are made every year in new cars, which is why newer cars usually offer better protection in the event of a crash.

The two main areas of vehicle safety and design are:

  1. Crash avoidance: Technology such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and autonomous emergency braking that can help you to avoid a crash.
  2. Crash protection: Specifically designed safety features such as crumple zones, seat belts, and front, side, curtain and knee airbags that can prevent you from being injured or killed in the event of a crash.

Safety rating systems provide an indication or guide of the relative levels of protection of a vehicle in the event of a crash.

If you want to know the safety rating of your car, the most reliable source (and supported by RAC) is the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the annual Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) survey.

Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP)

ANCAP publishes credible and independent vehicle safety ratings.

The more ANCAP stars a vehicle has, the better it performed during crash tests in a controlled laboratory setting.

To achieve the maximum 5-star rating, a vehicle must achieve the highest standards in all tests and feature advanced safety assist technologies.

A 4-star rating is the minimum recommended rating.

Buying a car that has a minimum 4 star ANCAP safety rating significantly increases your chances of survival and reduces your risk of serious injury in the event of a crash.

It’s important to note that the minimum safety standards for vehicles sold in Australia are significantly lower than the requirements for an ANCAP 5-star safety rating, so its critical consumers check the ANCAP safety rating as well before they buy.

Check your ANCAP rating now.

Used Car Safety Ratings

If you're buying a used car, the annual Used Car Safety Rating is the best source of information about how safe that car is.

The Used Car Safety Ratings are determined by analysing the records of over 7 million vehicles in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand where someone was killed or seriously injured between 1990 and 2013.

The records were analysed to determine the performance of the vehicle in preventing severe injury to people involved in crashes, and the calculated safety ratings take into account the vehicle’s mass, its structural design, and the fitted safety features such as airbags and type of seat belt.

Check out the safety rating of your Used Car.

Our safer cars commitment

We recognise that safer cars can save lives, so in 2012 we took our commitment to road safety one step further by choosing to not insure or finance any vehicle that was built in 2012 or beyond with an ANCAP rating of less than 4 stars.

A 4 or 5-star safety rating means your family has a much better chance of surviving a crash or avoiding severe injuries than in a vehicle with a 1, 2 or 3-star safety rating.

The majority of our vehicles are imported from international markets, so the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) perform an important regulatory function to ensure imported vehicles meet minimum Australian safety standards. 

Currently, examining new regulatory proposals and implementing them as ADRs is time consuming.

One of our Federal Priorities for 2017 is to reduce the time taken to examine ADR’s so Australian road users can quickly receive the full benefit of vehicle safety features available in international markets. 

We are calling on the Federal Government to:

  • Introduce mandatory display of the ANCAP safety rating at the point of sale so that consumers have ready access to information which might one day save their life, and 
  • Reduce the time taken to examine new regulatory proposals and implement them as ADRs to receive the full benefit of vehicle technology widely available in other countries.  

Last updated December 2017

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