Motorists need car safety information at point of sale
Used car buyers in New Zealand deserve more safety information at the point of sale according to the AA.
Ahead of the general election on September 23, the AA believes such safety information should be available in a way that fuel economy information is already provided.
AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says New Zealand has a huge second hand car market with 160,000 imports crossing the border in 2016, compared with about 140,000 new car sales.
While new cars are safer than they have ever been, the average age of used imports is increasing.
"This means the gap between the safety performance of used and new cars is widening."
Stocks says that for many motorists the safety difference between cars is not immediately apparent and there are important distinctions that consumer should have easy access to.
"Motorists, especially people buying cars for the first time, can easily be overwhelmed by what is available and can find it difficult to work out which factors they should consider most."
Many of the poorest performing vehicles are often driven by novice drivers who are more likely to be involved in a crash.
Ministry of Transport data shows younger drivers are seven times more likely to crash than those with more experience behind the wheel.
Stocks says while younger drivers will often have more modest budgets, they actually need the best protection.
As part of the safety info push, the AA released on Thursday the 2017 Used Car Safety Ratings guide which is the result of in-depth analysis by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Victoria, Australia, of real-world crash data collected in both New Zealand and Australia.
Updated each year, the guide now provides safety ratings on 279 used vehicles built between 1986 and 2015 listing 106 of them as good or excellent.
A further 113 are categorised as poor or very poor and 60 are considered marginal.
"The guide shows which cars are the safest across all categories, which is why we want the information available at the point of sale. It enables buyers to consider safety performance of one vehicle against another before they get behind the wheel.
"Buyers can't make the right choice without the right information."
The work conducted by MUARC show that a driver of the worst-rated vehicle is more than 10 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as a driver in the best-rated vehicle.
The research also show the average risk of death or serious injury for the driver in a 2015 car is half that of someone behind the wheel in a 1996 car.
"Newer technology, improved design and materials in cars all contribute to better crash outcomes and this flows through to the second hand market. The Used Car Safety Ratings shows where buyers should be looking."
Stocks says buyers should not consider cars listed in the poor or very poor categories.
"There are good or excellent rated vehicles in every category including 36 Safer Picks which are the safest for the occupants while also providing good protection for other road users in the event of a crash."
Stocks says motorists will note some cars, especially later models, missing from the guide.
"Enough crash data is required on each vehicle in the guide to ensure the rating is robust. If a particular model hasn't been involved in many crashes, then there's not enough data to consider. In those cases, motorists should review a vehicle's rating as a new car."
Stocks says new car crash test results, which are done in controlled conditions, are provided by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (Ancap).