Vehicle safety technology saves lives, study finds

The idea that safety technology in vehicles saves lives isn't a new one to the country's fleet managers. However, a recent study has provided further weight to the argument that vehicles are becoming much safer. 

The current NSW road toll has already surpassed last year's total.

Vehicle safety is constantly advancing, as automotive manufacturers around the world continually improve what it means to have a safe car. Although regulatory bodies such as the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) evolve their safety ratings as new systems debut, many manufacturers see the value in creating vehicles that protect drivers and their passengers. 

The current NSW road toll is evidence of the need for fleet managers to prioritise safety features when purchasing new vehicles. The current toll of 315 has already surpassed 2014's final figure of 307, with the busy holiday season still to come. 

Five-star safety ratings make the difference

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analysed car accident data to discover how modern safety equipment affects survivability in a crash. According to the organisation, modern vehicles have reduced the chances of dying in an accident by around 33 per cent, thanks to a number of different passive and active safety systems. 

To put the rate of technological advancement into perspective, the IIHS found that if everyone in the US drove a car from 1985 last year, there would have been almost 8,000 additional deaths as a result of accidents. 

Executive Vice President at IIHS David Zuby said the research created an important link between independent crash tests and real-world examples. 

"We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better," he explained. 

"These latest death rates provide new confirmation that real-world outcomes are improving, too."

Safety equipment makes it easier to manage adverse conditions.Safety equipment makes it easier to manage adverse conditions.

Which model is the safest?

In many cases, the safety equipment that makes the difference between life and death doesn't include items such as air bags that only activate once an incident is already in progress. Now, systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) seek to actively avoid accidents, which can contribute to fleet maintenance savings

ANCAP recently announced a range of five-star ratings across multiple vehicle classes, from hatchbacks to SUVs. ANCAP CEO James Goodwin revealed statistics which suggest Australia's roads are also much safer than they were in the past. 

"The proportion of models achieving a 5 star ANCAP safety rating has gradually increased from zero in 2002 to 77 per cent of rated models on sale today," he said.

These examples provide real-world evidence that investing in vehicles with five-star safety ratings can bring significant value to a fleet and keep drivers protected.