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Could your car be dangerous? ANCAP reveals average age of vehicles involved in fatal crashes

The average age of cars in fatal crashes has increased from 12.5 years in 2014 to 13.4 years in 2019.

The proliferation of airbags, crash avoidance systems and features like stability control have drastically improved vehicle safety in the past two decades, preventing serious injury and death.

But worrying data released by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) reveals that the average age of vehicles involved in fatal crashes has increased from 12.5 years in 2014 to 13.4 years in 2019.

This is despite the average age of registered vehicles (passenger cars and SUVs) generally remaining at about 10-years old in the same period.

ANCAP’s data also shows that in 2019, 42 per cent of vehicles involved in fatal crashes were built in 2004 or earlier. Cars of this age make up 22 per cent of the overall registered fleet.

However, in comparison, just 10 per cent of vehicles aged five years or newer (which make up 30 per cent of the registered fleet) were involved in fatal crashes.

More recent data reveals that in 2020, 64 per cent of fatalities were in vehicles aged 10 years or older, when just 45 per cent of registered vehicles fell into that 10 years or older category.

ANCAP chief executive officer Carla Hoorweg said the figures highlight the impact newer, safer cars have in a crash.

“ANCAP has been monitoring the age of the vehicle fleet since 2014, and while the average age of the fleet is generally remaining constant, the age of vehicles involved in fatal crashes is increasing and the rate of fatal crashes is more than four times higher for older vehicles than for new vehicles,” she said.

“This clearly demonstrates the net safety benefit newer vehicles offer, and this is the case not only to their occupants but also to other road users.

“We can’t all afford a brand-new car, but there are many near-new vehicles that offer higher levels of protection. There are also many other levers that can be pulled across government and corporate entities to prioritise the purchase and use of newer, safer vehicles for the benefits of all Australian road users.”

Meanwhile, the 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings have been revealed, highlighting the safest used cars to buy across various vehicle categories.

Developed by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), Used Car Safety Ratings differ from ANCAP’s ratings in that they are based on statistics collected from car crashes in Australia and New Zealand where someone was killed or seriously injured.

The 2012-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe was awarded a Safer Pick as part of the 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings. The 2012-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe was awarded a Safer Pick as part of the 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings.

Vehicles awarded a five-star rating get MUARC’s ‘Safer Pick’ tick of approval. This year, Safer Picks in the small-car category include premium offerings such as the 2004-2013 and 2013-2019 Audi A3, 2011-2019 BMW 1 Series, and the 2012-2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class.

At the more affordable end, the 2012-20126 Subaru Impreza and XV and the 2009-2016 Toyota Prius are Safer Picks.

Holden’s 2013-2017 VF Commodore and Ford’s 2008-2016 FG/FG-X Falcon also scored top marks for large passenger cars.

In terms of SUVs, the 2013-2016 Ford Kuga, 2006-2012 and 2012-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2006-2012 Mitsubishi Outlander, 2012-2018 Subaru Forester, 2005-2013 and 2013-2019 Nissan Pathfinder and 2007-2013 and 2013-2019 Toyota Kluger were named Safer Picks.

The 2014-2019 Kia Carnival was the safest people mover, while the 2008-2019 Hyundai iLoad, 2004-2015 Mercedes-Benz Vito and 2004-2015 Volkswagen Transporter were all awarded five stars.

Safer Picks in the pick-up segment included Ford’s locally developed 2011-2015 Ranger, the related Mazda BT-50 and VW’s 2011-2019 Amarok.