A NEW STUDY by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has found that the most popular cars for young drivers aged 17 to 25 are major contributing factors in road fatalities.
According to Used Cars Safety Ratings calculated by MUARC, the two most popular cars for women, early Ford Laser models (1982-88) and the Hyundai Excel (1995-2000), score only one star.
For young male drivers, the two most popular cars are the VL and VP model Commodore (1986-1993), both of which have a Used Car Safety Ratings score of just two stars.
The study looked at more than 250,000 accidents involving young people in Australia and New Zealand from 2001 to 2005 to find a connection between the types of cars driven and crashed by young people.
The results of the study showed that because of the cars they choose, young people have an 11 percent greater risk of death or serious injury if they have an accident.
?These finds are quite startling and concerning,? research team member Dr Stuart Newstead said. ?In Australia 181 young people were killed in car accidents in 2008.
This age group already has the highest crash risk of any age and the type of car they were driving at the time gives them significantly lower levels of protection from death and serious injury in a crash than older motorists.?
Dr Newstead said the poor injury protection related to a variety of factors, including the older age of the vehicle.
Young women, the results show, tend to drive cars that are both older and smaller than the average, increasing the risk of death or injury in an accident.
?Even if we just look at cars of a particular age, young people are still choosing the vehicles with worse injury protection performance," Dr Newstead said.
?If we want to reduce the high rate of road fatalities and serious injuries in this age group, we should be taking heed of this research and looking at ways to change the car choices young people are making.?
The results showed that among used cars, the Ford Focus, Saab 9-3 and Peugeot 307 are top rating cars in terms of safety.
A list of the safest used cars in Australia can be found at the RACV website.