We often hear about new car safety ratings during television commercials for those models, but rarely do we seek the safety ratings of older-model vehicles. In Australia, safety ratings for cars built between 1996 and 2010 have been compiled based on police accident reports. These reports have allowed a full understanding of not just how the occupants of the vehicle fared during a collision, but also what effect the impact of the car had upon other individuals involved in the accident. This includes the occupants of any other vehicles involved, pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.
The primary focus for many years has been to rate the ability of a car to protect its occupants during an accident. That focus remains, but there is now a shift toward looking at how your car could potentially harm others outside the vehicle. For example, recent studies indicate that if you are driving a large SUV during an accident you and those inside may be well-protected from serious injury. However, occupants of any vehicle you strike could be harmed in a far-greater way than if you had been driving a smaller car. It is the intent of such studies to shed light on these factors with the hope that automotive consumers will consider the effect their vehicles could have upon others before making a purchase.
Ratings for used car safety have been calculated based on the vehicle’s mass, the structural design of the body, and safety features such as airbags and types of seat belts found in the vehicles. The “Safe Pick” label is applied to vehicles that not only protect the occupants of those vehicles, but also provide a safer alternative than selecting a car that could potentially cause substantial harm to pedestrians and cyclists. A “Driver Protection Rating” is also offered, ranging from “excellent” (five-stars) to “very poor” (one-star). Before making a purchase it would be wise to ask the used car dealer for the specific rating for the car you wish to consider for purchase. Not all cars with an “excellent” rating will also be rated as a “Safe Pick.”
Your safety, as well as that of your family, is important. Even so, it is necessary to consider the lives of those outside your vehicle who may be affected by an accident of which you are a part. Take the time to consider all options when making a used car purchase and review all used car safety ratings.