Safety should start at top

Gov­ern­ment fleets need to set the stan­dard, writes STEPHEN OT­T­LEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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