Motoring News

Revealed: Crash fatalities "twice as likely" in cars built pre-2000

New Zealanders are twice as likely to die in a crash if the car they’re travelling in was built before 2000.

The average age of cars here is more than 14 years. Transport Agency data shows cars built before 2000, which represents nearly 40% of all passenger cars and SUVs on New Zealand roads, are involved in 57% of fatalities.

Outcomes improve hugely a decade later. Cars produced between 2010 and 2015, which make up 17% of the fleet, were involved in 10% of fatalities.

To demonstrate that, the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme conducted a rare car-to-car crash test using a 1998 Toyota Corolla against its 2015—built counterpart. Each of the cars were accelerated to 64km/h and crashed into each other.

Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks was at the test, the devastating results of which are shown in the video below which has already been viewed over 1 million times. 

Stella says older vehicles are significantly over-represented in crashes that resulted in death.

I"n New Zealand, many families have multiple cars in the driveway including a relatively cheap “starter” car for teenagers once they have their driver's licence.

“Sometimes the thinking is to buy a car that is known to be reliable, not too powerful and often older. The result of this test clearly shows why a newer car should be considered.

“Vehicle safety needs to be better prioritised by car buyers. We’ve completed research in the past that shows that a number of factors often come in ahead of any safety considerations during the selection process. Purpose and price will always be up there, but safety should be considered alongside them.

“Safety isn’t a luxury.” 


PHOTO PRE CRASH 1998 2015 Toyota Corolla B

The 1998 Toyota Corolla (left) and the 2015 model pictured before the test

Stella says vehicle manufacturers are playing their part by building better, safer cars packed full of crash prevention technology, but for this to have more impact on our road toll the average age of the fleet must reduce significantly.

In 2016, 328 people died on New Zealand roads. Stella says the data from the fleet profile compared against fatalities shows that there would be fewer deaths if older cars were not a factor.

The 1998 Corolla was built before the current frontal impact rule was applied that sets minimum safety standards for cars sold in New Zealand. It’s also not equipped with life-saving airbags.

“The crash test shows the driver in the older vehicle would likely have been killed or very seriously injured.”

“On the open road with a potential closing speed of 200km/h, the outcome would have been even more significant for the occupants of both cars and almost certain death for any occupants of the older vehicle.

“In today’s market used car buyers can easily find much safer vehicles than the older example in this test for a price often well under $10,000."



Despite substantial damage, the 2015 Corolla absorbed more of the impact, preventing collapse of the cabin and protecting the driver



Image shows the scale of damage experienced by the 1998 model.

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