Car Safety

Rating your car.


Only a generation ago people happily drove home from the hospital with their newborns in a basket on the floor. Cars seatbelts weren’t even compulsory in Victoria until 1970 and airbags were for soft Mars landings for NASA spacecraft.

Attitudes to car safety and accident prevention have evolved in leaps and bounds in a few decades. Standards have improved with technological advances in design and manufacture; we as a society benefit from a lower road toll and reduced injuries and consumers feel they are protecting their families.

But all cars offer different levels of safety depending on age and model.  Previously, buyers interested in safety would not have been armed with the knowledge to make as fully informed a decision on a new or used vehicle. But a website like, developed and maintained by the Transport Accident Commission is a terrific, accessible resource for car buyers looking for independent information about the safety of new and used cars on the Australian market.

Cars are given a one (poor) to five star (excellent) rating estimated from data on actual crashes as reported to police in Australia and New Zealand and according to the site provide a very high level of confidence. The site covers about 80% of the cars on our roads, although that only represents about 30% of the total models actually available on the Australian market. Users can simply type in from the home page details of their car to obtain a rating; or browse cars and also generate a comparison list.

There’s also info on the safest car by category, such as small cars, SUVs, vans and people movers; new car safety reports and explanations on various safety features.

The only bad news is turns out my 1998 sedan is only rated a two (poor).