How these safety ratings are calculated
Records from over 7.5 million vehicles in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2014 were analysed by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre. The ratings were calculated using an internationally reviewed method and are influenced by the vehicle’s mass, the structural design of the body, and the safety features fitted to the vehicle, such as airbags and types of seat belts.
Each of the driver protection ratings in the 2017/18 update has been recalculated based on the most recent crash data available so they are not comparable with the ratings published in previous years. Models of vehicles that cause lower injuries to other road users with which they collide, including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, as well as providing excellent protection for their own driver, and are fitted with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are awarded the “Safe Pick” label. In some models, ESC was optional so, if interested in one of these, check to see if it has ESC.
The score for each individual model can be compared against the ratings for all other vehicles.
The driver protection ratings are about the risk of death or serious injury to the driver of the vehicle in the event of a crash. The ratings are not about the risk of being involved in the crash in the first place, which is generally determined by a range of factors including driver behaviour, vehicle condition and the road environment.
Question: Won’t certain kinds of vehicles score a good rating because of the types of people who drive them or where they are driven?
These factors were taken into account as much as possible when the data were analysed. The ratings were adjusted for factors such as driver gender and age, type of road user involved, speed limit at the crash location, number of vehicles involved, crash configuration, and year and location of crash.
What's the difference between these ratings and the new car safety ratings?
New car safety ratings (eg ANCAP) are determined based on data obtained through the simulation of common crash scenarios undertaken on new vehicles in a controlled laboratory setting. ANCAP safety ratings demonstrate a vehicle's level of occupant and pedestrian protection as well as their ability, through technology, to avoid a crash. Used Car Safety Ratings, as listed in this brochure, are calculated using data from millions of police reports on actual crashes involving a range of drivers and all types of driving conditions.
Occupants of heavier vehicles in real-world multi-vehicle crashes typically fare better than those in lighter vehicles. This is why ANCAP crash test results should not be compared among vehicles with large weight differences. In many single-vehicle crashes, greater weight offers no safety advantage. ANCAP crash test ratings relate to both occupant protection and the ability of the car to avoid a crash. ANCAP has a separate rating for a vehicle’s ability to protect a pedestrian in a crash.
The used car safety ratings listed in this brochure can be compared across all categories as they are derived from reports of actual on-road crashes and represent the ability of the car to protect its driver.
The ‘Safe Pick’ vehicles further identify vehicles that provide the best protection for both their own occupants and other road users in a crash.
Any vehicle safety rating system can only provide an indication of the relative levels of protection between vehicles you can expect in the event of a crash. Whether or not you die or are seriously injured in a crash also depends on how safely you drive your vehicle.
More about the Vehicle Safety Research Group
The UCSRs are the main output from the Vehicle Safety Research Group research program and there have been a number of highlights over the 25 years of publication in refining and extending the ratings. The focus of the VSRG program has become much broader than just the ratings. Key areas of vehicle safety explored by the program include assessment of vehicle safety technologies, modelling and projection of vehicle fleet composition and its effects on safety, estimating crash risk, consideration of the safety implications of vehicle choice on high risk road user groups and examining the relationship between ANCAP and real world crash outcomes.
Some specific outcomes of the Group are:
- Investigation of the effectiveness of vehicle safety technologies including ABS braking systems, frontal and side airbag systems and electronic stability control.
- Analysis of the influence of vehicle colour on crash risk.
- Estimation of trends in light vehicle road trauma related to crashes involving heavy vehicles and predicting the likely impact of forecast rapid growth in heavy vehicle travel.
- Estimation of crash risks by vehicle type including motorcycles and analysis of the effects of vehicle choice on overall crash risk.
- Extensive analysis of the crash risks and injury outcomes associated with 4WD vehicles compared to other regular passenger cars.
- Analysis of vehicle choices made by young drivers and their influence on secondary safety outcomes relative to the key crash types in which they are involved and including assessment of the potential benefits of safer vehicle choices for young drivers.
- Assessment of the effectiveness of novice driver vehicle restrictions and the potential for improving the restriction protocols to further reduce novice driver road trauma.
- Investigation of the potential for improving the consistency between Used Car Safety Ratings and ANCAP new car safety ratings.
Where to find out more