Safe cars knocked back
STATE and federal governments have rejected a call for all their new fleet vehicles to have five-star safety ratings.
National Road Safety Council chairman Roger Cook said yesterday he could not believe governments would not immediately make the change to safer vehicles.
‘‘Extra cost would be minimal because more than 50 per cent of all cars are now fivestar rated,’’ he said.
‘‘What we are trying to accomplish is to get the car fleet modernised because it’s pretty old— about 10 years on average.
‘‘Those five-star govern- ment cars would then flow into the used car fleet in a couple of years making them cheaper and more available to young people who have the highest casualty rates.
‘‘If all young drivers were in five-star vehicles their ac- cident rate would drop by 25 per cent.’’
Drivers under 25 years account for 13 per cent of the population but 24 per cent of road deaths, he said.
‘‘We have asked state and federal governments to move to five-star ratings and generally without exception they acknowledge it’s a good thing to do, but to be brutally frank there is not a lot of absolute commitment at the present,’’ he said.
‘‘Get the governments to do it and that will be a good example to the private sector.
‘‘If the reason for rejection is finance then the governments have to look at what the cost is of road accidents which is about $27billion nationally.
‘‘That puts enormous pressure on our economy and our hospitals so anything to get the accident rate down will take the pressure off. ‘‘It’s a no brainer.’’ Cook acknowledged that a majority of government fleet vehicles are commercial vehicles such as utilities and vans which have a lower proportion with five-star ANCAP crash ratings.
‘‘But the cars that young people are driving aren’t these types,’’ he said.
‘‘Anyway, commercial vehicles might be lagging behind in safety but they are getting better.’’