The National Road Safety Council believes young motorists should be driving their parents' cars rather than the low-priced "old bomb" first cars that so many P-platers find themselves behind the wheel of.
Speaking at the Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference in Canberra this week, National Road Safety Council Chairman Roger Cook said that the youth road toll could be dramatically cut if parents handed over their own cars - particularly for night driving.
Mr Cook said that research had shown more than 400 lives could be saved each year if Australians bought the safest car in its class, while around 8000 injuries would be prevented.
"The average age of the Australian car fleet is 10 years. The risk of death or serious injury in a crash in a vehicle made in 1987 is about double that of a vehicle made in 2007," Mr Cook said.
"We need to get drivers, young drivers in particular, into safer cars."
Mr Cook said that the features we take for granted in new cars, such as ABS and newer technologies packaged with ESP systems, are absent from many cars driven by P-platers.
Mr Cook added that if Federal and State Government departments purchased only independently-tested 5-Star cars, the number of safe cars on the secondhand market would increase rapidly thanks to the fast turnover on most government fleets.