Older cars were made tougher, so they’re safer.
Older, tougher, more rigid cars don’t crumple, nor do they absorb energy in the same way modern cars do. This means the occupants of older cars have to absorb much of the energy in a crash. Think back to the earlier video. Crashing into a solid object at 60 km/h is like falling from a three-story building. A four or five-star car acts like a safety net as it crumples and slows your fall. Older cars might not be damaged as much, but their occupants will be damaged much more.
Modern cars have numerous safety features. And they’re specifically designed and built to protect occupants in a crash. So if someone says – “they don’t make them like they used to!” – from a safety point of view, that’s a good thing.
Watch this video of a crash at 64 km/h between two Toyota Corollas – one built in 1998 and the other in 2015. The driver of the older car would likely have died. Amazingly, though, the other driver would probably have walked away. The age of your car can literally be a life and death matter in a crash.
We think this Corolla crash footage is really effective. So we’re including it in a short video we’ll be sending to learners and supervisors after you tell us you’ve delivered the free lesson. Please remember to claim your lesson within 30 days to help us achieve this.
Here’s another video of a crash between two Chevrolets – a 2009 Malibu and a 1959 Bel Air. It’s an excellent demonstration of the advances that engineers and manufacturers have made towards keeping occupants safer in a crash.
Only new, expensive cars are safe.
Although new cars are usually safer, you can still buy a safe used car for a few thousand dollars.
The ANCAP Safety website and smartphone app, the SafeCars app, and the Transport Accident Commission’s www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au are all excellent sources of information. You can find out about specific makes and models, how much they cost, and their levels of safety. You can also enter your budget, or the make and model you’re after, and go from there.
The larger the car, the safer it is.
This isn’t necessarily true, particularly where it relates to larger, older vehicles like SUVs and four-wheel-drives. To begin with, an older large vehicle will absorb much less energy in a crash. A larger vehicle might also be fitted with light truck tyres – marked ‘LT’ on the sidewall – or tyres designed for rough conditions. These tyres are usually suitable for highway use, too. But their road holding and handling won’t be as good as better-performing passenger vehicle tyres.
Road holding means how well the tyre grips the road and road handling means how well the vehicle responds to the road and driver inputs. Both can contribute to whether a crash happens or not. Broadly speaking, larger vehicles such as SUVs and four-wheel-drives will be harder to handle and less forgiving than cars, especially for new drivers.
Consumers should assess a car’s safety on its star rating, not its size.
P-platers will crash anyway, so it’ll be cheaper in an old bomb.
A part of this myth has some truth. Yes, new P-platers are more likely to crash. And they’ll carry a much higher risk of crashing than experienced drivers for about six years. But, if they do crash, we know they’re far more likely to be seriously hurt in an older car.
An older car is sometimes cheaper to fix, but injuries cost the same. Occupants of older cars will be hurt more in a crash – probably physically and emotionally – and after a crash, human repair concerns people far more than car repair. People who are injured in crashes can carry the cost for the rest of their lives. But the car repair cost will soon be forgotten.
What this means is that P-platers should be driving the newest, safest cars in the household. And if that means mum or dad has to drive the older car for a while, then so be it. It’s a small price to pay for novice-driver safety.
No parent would deliberately endanger their children. It’s just that most parents don’t understand the potential dangers of putting them in older cars. Part of your role as a Keys2drive instructor is to help them understand these risks and show them how to reduce them.
So, what safety features should we all be looking for? At the very least, it should be:
- Front, side, curtain and knee airbags (the more airbags, the better)
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- Anti-lock Braking (ABS)
- Pre-tensioner seatbelts.
Those with a bit more to spend might want to look for additional features, such as:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Lane Departure Warning
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Parking sensors or reversing cameras,
- Blind Spot Monitoring.
This isn’t a complete list. And rather than weigh up the features, the best thing people can do is look for the safety rating from ANCAP or Used Car Safety Ratings.