Crash testing body, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has demonstrated just how far crash safety has advanced in the last 20 years, and is calling for Australian motorists to opt for newer, safer cars where possible.
In a first-ever comparison crash test, ANCAP used a pair of Toyota Corollas to demonstrate the difference between new and old, smashing a 1998 model into its 2015 counterpart, and the results are obvious.
The dramatic test has been used to convey to Australian motorists why older vehicles are over-represented in vehicle fatalities as a result of accidents on our roads.
Australia's crash testing body has called for inexperienced and frail drivers to consider the safety of their vehicles with the head-to-head smash revealing a "catastrophic structural failure" of the older car according to ANCAP resulting in an extremely high risk of serious injuries that could have killed occupants.
According to ANCAP’s 2016 standard the 1998 Corolla would have scored 0.40 out of 16 points for front occupant protection - a zero star rating. Obvious cabin deformity can be seen and a serious risk of head, chest, and leg injuries were recorded.
Conversely the latest generation Corolla, which has a five-star ANCAP rating as of 2016 held up much better, thanks a stronger safety cell and modern technology such as airbags to protect the driver and passengers. By the same standard the Corolla hatch scored 12.93 out of 16 points.
Australian accident data shows older vehicles (in this case classified as cars built prior to 2000) are overrepresented in fatal crashes, making up 20 percent of the nation’s vehicle fleet, but resulting in 33 percent of fatality crashes.
By comparison newer cars (from 2011 to 2016) make up 31 percent of Australia’s registered vehicles, but represent only 13 percent of fatality crashes.
Overseas research by the US National Highway Transport Safety Association published in 2013 suggests drivers of four to seven-year-old cars are 10 per cent more likely to be fatally injured in a crash, a number that grows to 19 per cent for eight to 11-year-old models, 32 per cent for 12 to 14-year-old cars, 50 per cent for 15 to 17 year old vehicles and 71 per cent for cars 18 years or older.
ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin says the demonstration is evidence people should drive the newest, safest car they can afford.
"It is unfortunate we tend to see our most at-risk drivers – the young and inexperienced, as well as the elderly and more frail – in the most at-risk vehicles, and we hope this test promotes a conversation to encourage all motorists to consider the safety of their car," he says.
"Safety is not a luxury and we want everyone to remain safe on the road, so consumers should look for the safest car they can afford and the safest car that suits their needs."