A SURVEY CONDUCTED by the RACV has found that an alarming number of Victorian drivers value a car's appearance and size above its safety equipment.
The research, conducted to examine awareness of vehicle safety features, discovered that the overwhelming majority of the study's 800-plus participants had little knowledge of modern vehicle safety, with just one percent of respondents knowing about the safety applications of traction control.
"Only 29 per cent of participants spontaneously listed airbags as a safety feature, 17 per cent of people mentioned ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) and even more concerning, only one per cent knew about traction control," Brian Negus, RACV General Manager Public Policy, said.
"What is staggering about these statistics is that many of the technologies have been on the market for more than a decade yet there is little recognition of the products or their importance."
Just under 20 percent of respondents could not identify any safety features of their own car, while 10 percent expressed a reluctance to pay for extra safety features to be installed into their vehicle.
"Just spending $1000 to include ESC (electronic stability control) in a new vehicle can reduce the likelihood of crashes by about 34 per cent and curtain airbags can minimise the risk of injury by up to 45 per cent," said Mr Negus.
The Federal Government recently passed legislation to make electronic stability control mandatory on all new passenger vehicles sold from 2011 onwards.
However, with older vehicles not equipped with the potentially life-saving technology (or even ABS or airbags, in many cases) and the wider Australian public apparently unaware of the true value of modern safety equipment, it appears education - as well as legislation - may be needed to properly tackle this country's road safety issues.