Safe cars knocked back

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE www.nt­

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.’’

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