“Motorists who buy big four-wheel-drives to be safer on the roads could be doing the wrong thing, according to the latest crash research.
A study of more than one million crashes involving vehicles manufactured between 1982 and 2000 has revealed higher injury rates for people in four-wheel-drives.
The study, by the NRMA and the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), pointed to the high instance of four-wheel-drives rolling when involved in a single-vehicle crash.
‘While 16 per cent of the serious injuries in large car single vehicle crashes are due to a rollover, the rate for 4WDs is 41 per cent,’ RTA’s general manager of road safety Soames (Soames) Job said.
‘While this problem has long been suspected due to the higher centre of gravity of 4WDs, this data confirms the effect.
‘The overall risk of injury for drivers of 4WDs in rollover crashes is the highest of all vehicle types, followed by commercial vehicles, medium cars, large cars and sports cars.’
Dr Job said the study showed that vehicle manufacturers needed to move swiftly to introduce stability controls for vehicles most likely to roll.
NRMA spokesman Jack Haley said it also identified the best and worst among secondhand cars when it came to protecting drivers in single-vehicle crashes.
The best was the Mitsubishi Lancer followed by the Ford AU Falcon and the VT/VX Holden Commodore.
While the worst was the Toyota Landcruiser followed by the Toyota 4Runner and the Holden Rodeo.
‘Overall, drivers in vehicles that rated the poorest are five times more likely to be seriously injured than those drivers in the best performing cars,’ Mr Haley said.
‘These results highlight just how important it is for motorists to have safety at the top of their mind when looking to purchase a vehicle.
‘They also reinforce NRMA’s view that all vehicles, especially small ones, should be available with a full package of front, side and head-protecting airbags.'”