FLEET IN SAFE HARBOUR
JOIN the dots. The road toll is the lowest in 79 years. Cars haven’t been this affordable for 38 years and, as the average age of the national fleet is getting lower, have never been safer. So vehicles deserve at least some of the credit for keeping more of us alive on the roads.
In the past 12 months, 1157 people died on Australian roads and for a lower toll we must go back to 1935. The peak was 3978 in 1970, when there were fewer cars on the road and the population was 12.2 million, a little more than half what it is today.
Governments will no doubt take the credit for reducing the toll even as speed cameras rake in the cash.
In five of the past six years, new-car sales have set records. Most new models have six airbags and stability control (which can prevent a skid), which means there is a greater chance your car and those around it can avoid a crash and, if things go awry, you’re likely to be better protected by airbags.
The adage that we don’t make ’em like we used to is true when it comes to cars. Back in the Kingswood era, cars were designed to be strong — and the occupants took the brunt of impacts.
Today’s cars crumple around you in a smash to minimise injuries from rapid deceleration.
We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back just yet. The average age of our cars has dipped below 10 years but still trails other developed countries — in Japan, Britain and the US, the average is six to eight years. New cars need to be more affordable so they can filter on to the used market, within easier reach.
Today, you can have a brand-new Honda Jazz with six airbags, a five star safety rating and a rear-view camera for $14,990. Used-car prices are at 10-year lows — and two- or three-year-old cars will soon be $8000-$9000.
Imagine how many more lives a newer, safer fleet could save. The thought of opening the market to used imports is disturbing yet the Federal Government is still looking at this flawed proposal.