In the next five years, serious trauma and deaths on roads will decrease by at least one third according to the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). This is due to the fact that most Australians will be travelling in cars with an ANCAP five-star safety rating.
It is estimated that close to half (40 per cent) of the kilometres driven this year will be in cars with the safety ratings.
These findings were presented in a paper titled Vehicle Safety Trends and The Influence of NCAP Safety Ratings, at the 24th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The program's Chief Executive Officer Mr Nicholas Clarke said safer cars had reduced the risk of being killed or seriously injured by half compared to 15 years ago.
"ANCAP has been instrumental in increasing car safety and this will only increase as ANCAP continues to raise the bar through increasing requirements," he elaborated.
Are NSW roads getting safer?
According to the latest figures released by Transport for NSW, the total number of driver fatalities was 58 in the year to date up to May this year - showing around a 16 per cent decline from the same time last year.
The authority goes on to elaborate that although the number of cars has gone up and the roads are busier, safety has not been compromised.
What did the ANCAP research reveal?
The program was launched in the early 1990s with a view to enhance safety on Australian roads.
The research paper, which reviewed safety rating trends between 2002 and 2014, showed that vehicle manufacturers increased their focus on building safer vehicles during this period.
This is evident in the fact that the number of cars awarded a five-star safety went from zero in 2002 to around 75 per cent of models being sold in 2014.
ANCAP is ahead of regulatory bodies in terms of safety requirements, according to the study
"Since 2001 ANCAP made a major contribution to the uptake of several important safety features on light vehicles. Regulation initiatives for these safety features either do not exist or lag ANCAP initiatives by five years or more," reads the paper.
The study also reveals that light vehicle sales with a five-star rating have shown a sharp rise since in 2008.
New Car Assessment Programs (NCAP) around the world are shifting their focus towards encouraging safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and improved protection for vulnerable road users struck by light vehicles.
Safety programs are cost effective
An in-depth evaluation shows that ANCAP programs prove to be highly cost-effective.
Australia will save a whopping $2 billion in costs due to increased safety by 2020.
Curtain airbags, electronic stability control and intelligent seat belt reminders are crucial features that car manufacturers have added to models in the 13-year period between 2001 and 2014. According to the paper, the ANCAP rating system had a strong role to play in this.
Mr Clarke says safety benefits the entire community.
"Every dollar invested in ANCAP translates to a saving of several hundreds of dollars in societal crash costs," he added.
He commented this could become a global trend with other countries adopting non-regulatory NCAP programs.
What is ESV?
ESV is an initiative of the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It provides international delegates a chance to share innovative advances in vehicle safety. Attendees include representatives from the government, car manufacturers and suppliers, safety researchers and medical, insurance, legal and policy professionals as well as consumers and academics from around the world.
A car with a high safety rating is likely to reduce your comprehensive insurance premiums. Safety ratings and features are not factors currently used to determine CTP green slip insurance premiums. Indirectly, safety features that reduce the frequency and severity of injury will reduce costs to the CTP insurance scheme and therefore help to reduce premiums.