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Latest used car safety ratings released today

Embargoed until 12 noon
Date 27 June 2006
Latest used car safety ratings released today

Buyers of used cars can now check the relative safety of over 300 popular vehicles, with the release of the 2006 Used Car Safety Ratings today.

The 2006 ratings are based on the latest information from the world’s largest database of real-life vehicle crashes, measuring the relative safety performance of used cars in over 1.7 million crashes on New Zealand and Australian roads from 1987 to 2004. Safety ratings have been calculated for 305 common makes and models. The ratings are being released today by Land Transport NZ and the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) in order to provide New Zealand motorists with the most up to date safety information available for used cars.

Ranging from small cars to 4WDs, the safety ratings of vehicles have been calculated using two criteria – driver protection and harm to other road users. The ratings show significant differences in crash performance between vehicles of a similar size and value.

“The Used Car Safety Ratings provide New Zealand motorists with the most up-to-date safety information available for used cars. Safety should be high on the priority list for used vehicle buyers, and as a large percentage of the New Zealand vehicle fleet is made up of used cars, we encourage buyers to take these ratings into account,” says John White, Land Transport NZ Vehicles Manager.

Of the 305 models assessed for driver protection, 35 vehicles were rated ‘much better than average’, 87 were ‘better than average’, 44 were ‘much worse than average’ and 77 were ‘worse than average’.

Of the 22 large cars rated, 14 scored above average and only two below average. Luxury cars also displayed a similarly consistent standard of safety. In contrast to this however, light cars were found to have a poor standard of occupant protection in the event of a crash.

While no light cars had a ‘better than average’ driver protection rating, five small cars achieved this rating, including three rated ‘significantly better than average’ – the 1994-2001 Peugeot 306, the 1999-2004 VW Golf and the 1998 2001 Toyota Corolla.

“Driving the worst performing vehicle means that, on average, you stand a 30% greater chance of serious injury or death in a serious crash than if you are in the best performing vehicle,” says Mr White.

A key finding in the area of driver protection assessment is that many of the better performing vehicles are newer models, showing the benefits of modern safety technology such as airbags, side intrusion beams, seatbelt pre-tensioners and crumple zones.

Of the 305 vehicles surveyed, 284 were also rated on the amount of potential harm to other road users in the event of a crash, including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, with 74 rated above average and 56 rated worse than average.

No medium or light cars - and only one small car - were rated as causing ‘more harm than average’. Large 4WD vehicles and utes however, fared poorly in this category. All but one of the large 4WDs were found to put other road users at a higher risk.

Vehicles that scored better than average in both driver protection, and harm to other road users include the 1998-2001 Toyota Corolla, the 1998-2004 Holden Astra TS, the 1997-2001 Honda CR-V, the 1991-1993 Honda Accord, the 1993-1997 Nissan Bluebird, the 1995-2000 Mercedes C Class and the 1992-1997 Ford Telstar/Mazda 626.

On the flipside, several vehicles scored worse than average on both counts, including the 1985-1998 Daihatsu Rocky/Rugger, the 1982-1985 Holden WB Series ute, the 1982-1989 Toyota Hiace/Liteace, the 1983-1987 Mitsubishi Cordia, the 1983-1986 Mitsubishi Starwagon and the 1982-1990 Toyota Supra.

The only vehicle to be rated significantly better than average in driver protection and harm to other road users was the Subaru Forester, a compact 4WD.

“Depending on what type of vehicle consumers wish to buy, they should ideally choose one of the best-rated vehicles in that particular category,“ says Stella Stocks, General Manager of AA Technical Services.

“Vehicle safety ratings can only provide an indication of how much protection a certain type of vehicle can offer its occupants or how much harm it may potentially cause to other road users. Ultimately, whether or not you are seriously injured or killed in a crash also depends on how safely a vehicle is driven. The best protection is to drive safely and encourage other road users to also drive safely.”

The Used Car Safety Ratings analysis was conducted by researchers in Australia at Monash University Accident Research Centre. Data for the 2006 results assess vehicle models from 1982 to 2004.

Copies of the 2006 Used Car Safety Ratings booklet are available free at AA Centres nationwide from Tuesday. Booklets can also be ordered from any Land Transport office or by ringing 0800 699 000. Full results are also available on and


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