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The more stars, the safer the car

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Check the safety rating before buying your next car – it could save your life

The choice you make when buying your next car could be a life and death decision – that’s the message behind a new nationwide road safety advertising and education campaign.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Safe Vehicles Programme aims to get more Kiwis into cars with four or five star safety ratings. With research showing that vehicle occupants are twice as likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash in a one or two-star rated car than they are in a five-star rated vehicle, NZ Transport Agency Senior Road Safety Manager Fabian Marsh says the campaign’s message is crucial.

“The numbers are clear, the higher the safety rating the more likely you are to survive in a crash,” Mr Marsh says.

Safety ratings indicate the likely performance of your vehicle in a crash, from one to five stars. Four and five-star rated vehicles are the safest. The New Zealand light vehicle fleet currently has a high proportion of one and two-star safety-rated vehicles (41 percent) that provide far less protection to occupants than higher-rated vehicles in the event of a crash.

The national advertising campaign launched yesterday targets people who are in the market to buy a new or used car, encouraging them to make safety a top factor in any vehicle purchasing decision. The campaign directs people to the newly designed and expanded Rightcar website, which now provides safety ratings covering around 95% of vehicles on New Zealand roads.

Rightcar website – rightcar.govt.nz(external link)

Mr Marsh says with approximately 800,000 vehicles changing hands in New Zealand each year there is great potential to save lives and prevent serious injuries by encouraging people to buy cars with a good safety rating.

“We all make mistakes when driving, and some crashes are inevitable, but safer vehicles can save lives in crashes. Checking a vehicle’s safety rating before you buy isn’t often high on the list of priorities for many New Zealanders, and we’d like to see that change.”

The Safe Vehicles Programme also includes industry education and information for buyers, and the New Zealand Automobile Association (AA) is backing the campaign.

"The AA supports raising awareness of the safety ratings of vehicles," says Mark Stockdale, AA Principal Advisor – Regulations.

"Even though cars may not look or be priced that different, the reality is some are safer than others, and buyers need to know the difference,” Mr Stockdale says.

"Regardless of budget, there will always be a safer option, and the AA encourages motorists to buy the safest car they can afford.

“If buyers have a better understanding of how protective a car would be in a crash then they can make that part of their decision making, so the AA is right behind efforts to raise awareness of vehicle safety ratings.”

The Safe Vehicles programme delivers on the Government’s Road to Zero strategy which was released in December 2019. Road to Zero outlines a strategy to guide improvements in road safety in New Zealand over the next 10 years. It sets out a vision of a New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured in a road crash, with a key focus area of significantly improving the safety of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet.

Rightcar website(external link)
1-star reality advert and campaign information
Road to Zero strategy(external link)

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