Road trauma could be reduced by 33 percent if all opted for the safest vehicles

New research released by RACQ today has revealed safer vehicle choices could contribute to a potential 33 percent reduction in road trauma if all Australians were able to travel in the safest vehicles possible.

The study examined the potential road safety benefits if the entire Australian light vehicle fleet was made up of the safest available vehicles in contrast to the actual vehicles involved in fatal and serious injury crashes in 2016.

“If the purchase and use of the safest vehicles was prioritised by all Australian motorists, we could see up to 290 lives saved and the serious injury of 5,800 others avoided every year,” RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said.

“Road fatalities and serious injuries come at a significant emotional, societal and economic cost, yet if we were all driving the safest vehicles, the annual societal cost saving would be around $2 billion. 

“There are a number of influential levers, such as ANCAP, working to continually enhance the safety of the vehicles entering our fleet, and the findings of this study show just how important it is that consumers – fleet and private buyers alike – choose the safest, five-star rated vehicles.”

Research lead and Deputy Director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), Associate Professor Stuart Newstead said optimising safer vehicle choices based on the total secondary safety of the vehicle would produce the largest road trauma reduction benefits for the community. 

“By substituting vehicles in the existing light vehicle fleet with the safest vehicles of the same age and market group, we would see a significant decline in the number of fatalities and serious injuries,” Associate Professor Newstead said. 

The study considered a number of scenarios in its analysis, with one hypothetical scenario analysed revealing a potential maximum road trauma reduction of up to 59 percent.

“While this shows a significant potential gain, this benefit is unlikely to be achieved in reality as it would require significantly changing the age and market group profile of the entire fleet at a single point in time," he said.

“More realistically, as consumers we have the power to reach that one-third reduction if we actively choose the safest vehicles available to us."