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Older driver vehicle choice important

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The Automobile Association and NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) have announced the results of an extensive study of the crash performance of vehicles driven by older drivers.

The Monash University Accident Research Centre study has found that:
 

  • injuries to older drivers could be reduced by 90 per cent if they were in the safest vehicle currently available; 
  • a 37 per cent reduction in injuries is possible if affordable vehicle models built after 2000 are purchased; and 
  • selecting the safest model in the current vehicle categories driven by older drivers would reduce injuries by 19 per cent.

Stella Stocks, AA general manager of motoring services, says that compared with the 35-54 year old drivers, older drivers tend to use vehicles that provide poorer crashworthiness. 

“This was particularly evident among drivers older than 75 years,“ says Ms Stocks.

“Due to their fragility, older drivers tend to have a higher risk of being injured in a crash and their injuries are typically more severe.  Older women tend to be even more susceptible to injury than older men.  And due to this fragility, it’s even more important that they drive the safest vehicle possible.”

“Older drivers, who are over-represented in multi-vehicle crashes, tend to crash in relatively old vehicles, which were typically purchased by them new or near new some years ago. This means they could be missing out on the improved crash performance available in more recent model vehicles. They also tend to choose smaller vehicles, which may put them at a disadvantage in two-vehicle crashes, a particular problem for older drivers who are over represented in multi vehicle crashes,’ says Ms Stocks.

Celia Patrick, the NZTA’s group manager of Access and Use, says choosing a safer vehicle can greatly decrease the risk of injury for an older driver in a crash. 

“The NZTA recommends people buy the safest car they can afford. Information about vehicle safety is available from our website – www.rightcar.govt.nz(external link). The website includes safety and fuel efficiency information for both new and used cars,” said Ms Patrick.

The Vehicle Safety Research Group is supported by the Automobile Association and the New Zealand Government, as well as by the 5 Australian motoring clubs, the Australian Government, and the 5 Australian state and territory governments.

Note for media: The full report on the study is available at www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/rpts12.html(external link)

For more information contact:

Stella Stocks
General Manager – Motoring Services
New Zealand Automobile Association
M. +64 21 772 242
E. sstocks@aa.co.nz

or

Andy Knackstedt
Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
M. +64 21 276 3222
E. Andrew.Knackstedt@nzta.govt.nz

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