Safety should start at top
Government fleets need to set the standard, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
GOVERNMENT fleets should take the lead on new-car safety, setting the direction for private buyers on the best cars for crash protection. The Ford Falcon last week scored the first five-star safety rating for a local car, and the chair of the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) says it is time for federal and state governments to stop focusing solely on ‘‘green’’ cars and to also work to get more buyers into safer vehicles. ‘‘The Australian car fleet is ageing. We need to encourage drivers not only into cleaner cars, but also into safer cars. The Government and ourselves can do more by buying safer cars,’’ ANCAP head Lachlan McIntosh says. He is calling for action similar to the Federal Government’s $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund and wants only five-star ANCAPrated cars in the Government fleet soon. ‘‘Governments have rightly set an agenda to encourage fuel efficiency and low emissions in new cars. They’ve set aside considerable funds to support the agenda, but road crashes cost Australians about $17 billion a year, and we know that safer vehicles save lives and save injuries,’’ he says. ‘‘It would be nice to see governments collectively — state and federal — get into the business of saying they are going to buy only four- and five-star cars, or even only five-star cars. There’s absolutely no reason now why they shouldn’t make that decision. It’s a lot easier than mucking around with ADRs and the ANCAP results are clearly obvious.’’ Seventy-seven models have scored a five-star rating in the current ANCAP scores, but the FG Falcon is the first Australian-made car to have earned the top honour. The Holden Commodore and Toyota Aurion have four-star ratings. The Federal and Victorian governments have agreed to buy Toyota’s Camry hybrid when it begins local production in 2010. ‘‘How much would it cost governments to have a purchasing policy to buy only five-star cars?’’ McIntosh asks. ‘‘We have a $500 million green-car fund. Here’s an initiative that would make a difference for a much lower cost.’’ McIntosh praises Ford for its result with the Falcon and says it is a challenge for Holden and Toyota to match it with their next-generation Commodore and Aurion models. ‘‘The Ford Falcon now leads the pack in safety for the large Australian-made family car,’’ he says. ‘‘ANCAP has high expectations that this achievement will encourage other carmakers to build five-star cars.’’
Protection: the Ford Falcon FG is the first Australian car to receive a five-star safety rating.