TMR Team | Dec 17, 2012

Older drivers risk a much greater chance of injury by choosing or staying with an older vehicle, according to a new NRMA and NSW Centre for Road Safety study.

The study found that injuries to older drivers could be reduced by a huge 90 percent if they upgraded to a brand-new 5-Star rated car, while many Australian models built after 2000 would still offer a 37 percent improvement.

NRMA's Jack Haley said that, compared with vehicle choices of the 35-54 year old age group, cars driven by older drivers tended to provide poorer crashworthiness.

"Due to their frailty, older drivers tend to have a higher risk of being injured in a crash and their injuries are typically more severe. Also, older women tend to be even more susceptible to injury than older men," Mr Haley said.

NSW Centre for Road Safety General Manager Marg Prendergast added that older motorists involved in crashes tend to be driving older vehicles that they have owned for many years.

"This means they are missing out on the improved safety features available in more recent model vehicles," Prendergast said.

"They also tend to choose smaller vehicles, which may put them at a disadvantage in two-vehicle crashes – a particular problem for older drivers who are over represented in multi-vehicle crashes."

She added that older drivers retaining or preferring older vehicles may be a result of budgetary constraints, resistance to adapting to a new vehicle, or an assumption that their current vehicle is safe.