One of the problems with buying a used car instead of a new one, is that while yes it’s cheaper, no you aren’t going to lose a load of value on the VAT (without a clever accountant) and no, you’re aren’t going to have to listen to the sales guy pitch everything under the sun to you, traditionally, they’re not as safe as their new counterparts. Some of that is because they’re old, but it’s also because they – by virtue of being old – aren’t fitted with all the latest safety equipment and haven’t kept up with the safety trends.
However while traditionally that might be the case, it seems to be gradually turning around, as a 2014 survey on Used Car Road Safety Ratings has found that of over 220 vehicles tested, more than 51 per cent were given an excellent or good rating for drivor protection in the event of a collision. This is the highest rating across the board, ever.
Of course though 51 per cent isn’t everything, so there were still 33 per cent of all cars given a safety rating of poor to very poor, which meant that they wouldn’t provide what is nowadays considered to be adequate protection to the driver.
This report wasn’t compiled just by talking with people though, but was based on data of over seven million different collisions throughout Australia and New Zealand since 1987. With that in mind, there are likely some European and American vehicles not included in the study, but it’s interesting to note some of the ones which did make that cut and some which surprisingly, didn’t.
For example, if you picked up a Saab model 900 or 9000 model, you’d get yourself a five star safety vehicle, even though they’d be over 20 years old at this point. Likewise you should be pretty safe if you find yourself in a 1995 VW Transporter or Caravelle, just as you would in a Volvo V40 or S40. However, at the other end of the spectrum, be careful if you’re considering a 2012 Mitsubishi Express or Suzuki Swift, as they only had a one star rating when it comes to driver safety.
Of course it should be noted that there’s unlikely to have been as many collisions involving the newer cars, so if a higher percentage were at high speeds then it could skew results a little.
Overall though it seems like cars are becoming safer as time goes on and that’s being mirrored in the numbers of fatalities each year, which are at their lowest ever, after receding from a peak in the mid 90s. They’re looking likely to get a lot safer too, as autonomous emergency braking, which could become a mandatory feature for all new vehicles as soon as next year, is postulated to cut road fatalities down by half again, by the middle of the next decade. That, combined with other autonomous features could turn the roadways of the world from one of the most dangerous places to be, to one of the safest.