Old Cars Are Killing Australians

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The Australian Automobile Association says more than 1,300 lives would be saved on Australian roads over the next 20 years if the nation reduced the age of its light vehicle fleet by just one year.

The AAA recently commissioned research that shows the age of the Australian car fleet has remained consistently high compared to other developed nations. The average age of passenger vehicles in Australia is 9.8 years. Light commercial vehicles average 10.4 years old.

"However, an overall reduction of just a single year in the age of the light vehicle fleet would yield a 5.4 per cent reduction in road crashes, deliver road trauma and emission reduction benefits worth $19.7 billion over 20 years and directly save the government $3.3 billion over the same period," says the AAA.

The research was compiled with data commissioned from Economic Connections, Pekol Traffic and Transport and Monash University Accident Research Centre.

AAA CEO Michael Bradley said the report highlighted the benefits of removing Commonwealth tariffs and taxes, which were originally imposed to protect Australia's now-closed car manufacturing industry. The combined impact of the taxes and tariffs will add almost $5 billion to the price of new cars in Australia over the next four years.

"Getting Australians into newer cars will deliver real safety and environmental benefits for the community," Bradley said.

The report has formed the basis of the AAA 2017-18 Pre-Budget Submission, which argues for greater investment in road infrastructure to reduce road fatalities and injuries and a range of measures to reduce congestion.

The AAA has advocated for reduced costs for motorists and an increase in the uptake of technologies to minimise emissions.

"We have called on the government to remove the 5 per cent tariff on imported vehicles and the Luxury Car Tax, which would save consumers almost $5 billion over the forward estimates," Mr Bradley said.

"We have urged the Government to introduce real-world vehicle emissions testing to provide accurate emissions and fuel consumption readings to empower Australians to make better informed choices."

Bradley said the pre-budget submission also called upon the Commonwealth to increase investment in land transport infrastructure and guarantee that at least 50 per cent of net fuel excise revenue would be earmarked for infrastructure in future years.

“"ustralians need a transparent link between excise and infrastructure investment," he said.

"The nation needs to make significant investment in road networks to reduce congestion and improve productivity for the future."




    I remember seen something like this about 10 years ago for British Columbia (Canada) (I think) not sure if something was done about it

    While the article didn't state exactly what was wrong with the older cars, not all cars are built equal. I have a 15 year old car which, not only does it only travel 500Kms per year, I'm confident it would out-break most new cars - plus it has all sorts of weird and wonderful stability control on-board.

    I guess we can look forward to some new tax regardless.

      But what is it like in a crash? What will it be like if you hit a pedestrian - what injuries will they sustain?

      It isn't just about brakes and stability control.

        Well, what speed are we talking about? I'm sure at 60Km/h or 100Km/h it won't matter what care I'm driving, the poor pedestrian will have a bad day.

          That's true but if you're doing 100km/hr around pedestrian traffic, then you're doing the wrong thing.

          Most pedestrian strikes aren't at those kinds of speeds because the driver brakes. ANCAP safety ratings now include pedestrian strikes.

            And as a paramedic, you would acknowledge that people standing on the side of the highway as a result of breakdown or unlawful toilet stops do unfortunately get struck from time to time.

            I suspect some kind of automatic-breaking technology might save them, and also those who unfortunately died in Melbourne recently when a driver decided to plough through a polulated public area.

            Ultimately, the whole issue is very complicated one which will drive years of debate. You can't save everyone.

              You're right, that does happen - but people on a highway or targeted in deliberate attacks aren't the majority of accidents involving pedestrians. The technology and construction isn't designed to save everybody from everything and arguing against it because it doesn't cover the extreme cases is silly.

              This isn't even a debate nor is it complicated - just observe crash tests and pedestrian strikes conducted on various vehicles of various ages and look at what happens to the crash test dummies. There's a reason ANCAP ratings exist and why they smash up cars, and it isn't for fun.

              This doesn't absolve pedestrians or motorists of blame (or cyclists, for that matter!) but it's irrelevant because someone will make an error of judgement and a crash will occur. At the point where your bones are breaking and your cerebral arteries are tearing apart, it matters very little where the blame lies.

        No, it's about the brain in the head of the driver, that's the nut holding the steering wheel. It is also about brakes, stability, steering control competence and 100% concentration which many GenZ and under 50's can't seem to understand, so never, never trust the brakes, test them before stopping and watch the fools in their late-model cars exceed the speed limit then wear their brakes more to stop at traffic lights and I stop beside them in my 2004 pristine, perfectly maintained vehicle made from high class steel, not the tinfoil vehicles made in Asia.
        You sure have got your fiction in a twisted mess.

          Tinfoil vehicles are safe. Ever heard of crumple zones. If the car doesn't absorb the impact your body will. Those built with real steal old cars are literal death traps.

          No, it's about the brain in the head of the driver...
          No, it isn't - as a paramedic I can assure you that having a car that won't smash into pieces and throw you through the windshield is extremely important. I don't care how good a driver you think you are - there's every chance that somebody else will do something incredibly dangerous and you won't have time to react. They will then hit you and if your car is garbage at protecting you, it'll crush you and kill you. That "high class steel" won't mean shit if it slams into your thoracic wall, punctures your lung, and lacerates your left ventricle. Do you not wear a seat belt because of your apparently superior driving skill?

          I've seen people walk away from 80km/hr crashes and rollovers because they were properly restrained and driving modern vehicles with crumple zones and protected occupant cavities. I've also seen people crushed to death because their car offered jack shit protection and they had the misfortune to be hit by somebody doing the wrong thing. This is basic kinematics of trauma and physics.

          So, to this:
          You sure have got your fiction in a twisted mess.
          No, you do. The idea you'll never get into trouble due to some unique insight, and that your car's protection is irrelevant, is a fallacy and one of the awful driving mentalities that we need to stamp out. It's this kind of piss poor attitude to driving that kills people - usually said driver in my experience. Look at the road toll death statistics since the 1970s and you'll find a steady decline. If everyone under 50 is so awful at driving as you suggest (and I'd agree the general state of driving skill in Australia is crap), then the declining toll probably has move to do with better vehicle safety features - which makes what you just wrote a load of nonsense.

            I was amazed by the obvious statistical fall in road deaths since the 70s, and even when vehicle numbers and population increased.
            ""the declining toll probably has more to do with better vehicle safety features"
            I would agree this is certainly a contributor, but another large factor behind this was education and tougher laws. Random breath testing being introduced in the 80s, better roads/infrastructure etc.


              RBTs had a massive impact on intoxicated driving and no doubt better roads helped too, but since the 70s we've had people using proper restraints and cars that have proper crumple zones and protected occupant cavities with limited intrusion. You're right that part of that is education but I think the impact of it is less than most assume - mostly because awful driving habits that contribute to accidents are still prevalent even today.

              It's questionable how much of a difference campaigns like the old TAC 80s commercials had on driver behaviour. It'd be interesting to see a comparison between accidents versus fatalities per capita from the 70s to now to see if we're having fewer accidents, or the same but with fewer fatalities.

                It's hard to track accidents since so many of them aren't actually reported. But it'd definitely be interesting if the data existed.

                One thing that does frustrate me with discussions of vehicle safety is the current attitude of it's all the drivers fault and pedestrians have no responsibility. I remember the old commercials aimed at kids when I was growing up "look right, look left, look right again". I really feel like we're no longer educating kids to exercise personal responsibility for their own safety. Something made worse with the rise of mobile phone use.

                Not saying we shouldn't make safer cars but if you walk out on the road and get hit because you're not paying attention it's your own fault.

            Don't disagree with you, no matter how good a driver you are other factors get in the way. And not just other drivers, there's also mechanical failure (even in a "perfectly maintained car"), medical emergencies (a friend of mine had a diabetic episode while driving and crashed) and even the best drivers make mistakes or unexpected environmental factors cause dramas (a small patch of oil on the road for example).

            I do however, remember reading something about how safety equipment is making people complacent. So it's a double edged sword. You get people taking more risks because they do have seatbelts, and airbags, and side-intrusion bars and ABS and so on. Which creates an interesting dilemma. I mean they push modern cars with advertising about how safe they are, when maybe they shouldn't.

              I had an auto tech teacher back in high school say "if they replaced air bags with nails people would drive a hell of a lot better"

    From memory, Japan has a system where owning an older car becomes more and more expensive, making it worth buying a new one.

    Perhaps we should borrow that idea.

      New Zealand (and UK) has compulsory motor vehicle inspections, and road user charges for diesel vehicles - perhaps we should borrow those ideas too?

      The former would certainly ensure vehicle quality is higher in older vehicles, as a failed inspection means no vehicle registration.

        Warrants of fitness (as in NZ) are a great idea and really should be done here.

        It's not really going to improve the safety of the vehicle, relative to new vehicles, it doesn't magically add stability control and curtain airbags, but it certainly ensures the basics are up to scratch, and doesn't cost a fortune (well, no more than you should be spending anyway).

          Why are airbags required if every driver complied with the road rules after spending one year learning to drive competently ...... many Aussie crashes, in the last few months, injuring and causing deaths were late model sedans and SUV's with AIR BAGS, which are only good for low speed crashes and how about the world wide recall of FAULTY airbags.
          Silly to expect the vehicle to be driver competent, there is the real problem, inattentive human beings.

            So the majority of crashes invloved the most popular vehicles on the road, go figure.

            Huh? did you have a brain aneurysm half way through that post? I don't see what it has to do with anything.

          There are already similar random inspections done here. But they're more about roadworthiness than emissions. Police can take you off the road for a ton of reasons like broken windscreen, lights, rust and other damage, faulty brakes, bald tyres etc.

          There is a problem with an inspection that's about emissions rather than roadworthiness. Basically you could have a perfectly maintained car but it may not meet emissions simply because it was *never* designed to meet those standards. And as pointed out the same goes for airbags. An immaculate 70s car just ain't gonna have them. So what standards do you inspect the car under? The one where it was manufactured or some sort of current one?

          If it's a current one you're going to take hundreds of thousands of vehicles off the road. Which has a couple knock on effects. For one, there will be lots of people who are no longer able to drive because they won't be able to afford a car. It'll also destroy a lot of small car yards since a large chunk of their inventory will no longer be sellable. And wreckers will have similar problems.

          On top of that you'll have a massive influx of waste (all those cars that need to be wrecked/recycled) and a corresponding huge influx of resource consumption. Every new car manufactured consumes a huge amount of resources and has a large carbon cost (larger than just running an old car for a few more years til it dies of old age).

            Requirements for a cars raodworthyness is quite well known. It needs to meet the mechanical standards set, and have safety features, where fitted, be functioning. So, you're 1970's car isn't going to fail a roadworthy for not having airbags or ABS, but a car from 2012 will fail if they're not operating correctly.

              That's the point I was making. The original post talked about inspections guaranteeing vehicle quality. If it's a 70s car it's quality could be perfect but it's still not as good as a 2000's car.

              The only way you could make an inspection truly effective is to subject every vehicle to modern standards not the standards they were manufactured under. Which then leads to the other problems I mentioned.

                Yes, but it doesn't take away from the fact an unroadworthy car is dangerous, which is what regular roadworthy checks help to eliminate. It's not going to magically give every car airbags, but it will make sure they at least have half decent tyres and brakes.

                  Obviously. And I don't think anyone was advocating that roadworthy inspections should be removed.

      That just ends up being a tax on the poor, unfortunately.

        Then, they should all follow Joe Hockey's advice and "get better paying jobs"...!

        Yep, ANOTHER tax on the poor too, I may add. . . given the cost-of-living increases, sluggish wage growth, cuts to penalty rates, underemployment, unemployment, welfare-tightening, & so on, it's already hard enough for many to own a car, let alone maintain it & keep it registered, or afford fuel! Given the woeful public transport in many areas, along with remote jobs, & childcare or caring responsibilities which need a vehicle, this would be just another difficulty to add to the existing hardships so many people already face, unless some serious budget reallocation was assigned to make it far more affordable.

          I might add to that, that public transport needs to be made cheaper when travelling from the outer suburbs to help those less well off. I pay approximately $12 per day on rail which means I need to earn approximately $5k per year pre-tax just to get to work! My partner also travels in by train which then turns into $10k! I don't have children, but imagine having to pay for daycare on top of that. before you even talk about regular bills to pay.

      I think that in Europe (Germany at least) that getting rego gets more difficult the older a car gets so it ends up cheaper buying a new car after a few years.

      Perhaps instead of spending more and more money of roads that can only lead to more people driving we should spend the money of public transport eg high speed inter-city rail networks.

    This is just lobbying to sell more new (fully imported) cars. Had this sort of push developed five or more years ago, Australia would still have a local car industry.

      That was my first thought when I saw the study was commissioned by AAA. I was also concerned when I read the statement;

      "However, an overall reduction of just a single year in the age of the light vehicle fleet would yield a 5.4 per cent reduction in road crashes, deliver road trauma and emission reduction benefits worth $19.7 billion over 20 years and directly save the government $3.3 billion over the same period," says the AAA.

      I bolded a word for emphasis. It's a study predicting what might happen. Claiming it "WOULD" result in these changes is not right. It "MAY" or "MIGHT" result in them. It may be worse, or better or have no change at all. I also find it doubtful that de-aging the fleet by a single year would result in such a large reduction. I'm not really sure that there was a big increase in safety in cars made 9 years ago as opposed to 10 years ago.

    What and add to the disposability of vehicles?

    Where are these accidents? Urban, rural? Urban, increase gas taxes within 50km of a metropolitan area. Maybe stairstep price so people dont drive that extra bit to save.

    That will encourage less distance traveled, and more use of public transit along with better infrastructure. " increase investment in land transport infrastructure" will definitely be needed anyway as newer cars use less fuel. P.s. "The nation needs to make significant investment in road networks to reduce congestion" bigger roads lead to more vehicles not less congestion. Public transit leads to less congestion. If there is that much congestion in an area, there may be enough traffic to justify other transit options.

    What rot. Old cars dont kill people it bad driving and bad roads.

    They always talk about this newer cars are safer crap. So I should trade my 2003 Merc for a brand new Mustang? Or that new Kia Scorpion? Maybe a great wall?
    Look at there safety ratings. Utter shit.
    They should be banned from sale if they are deemed unsafe. ANDCAP is independent, not government owned.

    The emissions thing is also a rubbish, look at VW, I don't even think us, in Australia, even fined them for there breach of emissions testing.

    This research looks like something paid for by car manufacturers to start buying new only. Which will not only create an issue for the lower income majority, but also the 2nd hand spare parts/cars market.

    Improving roads is a moot point when road works take years to complete, when 3rd world countries do it in months. Look at the Tullamarine freeway project in Victoria. 3 years of road works and not one section of it is complete.

    I think our natural rate of car age will always be older than other developed countries as cars just don't rust here in Aus.
    As John Cadogan states the biggest killer is found in the air where pre Euro1 diesel trucks that form >25% of the Australian fleet.

    This article is typical of the stupidity of ''''statistics'''' .... severely punish the fools who flout the road laws. Stop selling vehicles to juveniles who lack the ability to control a vehicle, a driving licence, in Australia 3 selected answers in a written test, a cruise around the locality with an inspector on a warm day, a dry road in light traffic outside the hours of traffic jams.
    I have an enormous amount of experience and years, cars, trucks, boats licences, instruction and testing, plus repairs and maintenance of all machinery ..... some young men cut off their fingers with a chain saw .... blame the operator, older vehicles, machinery, toasters, frypans .... more...!
    Old guns and new guns don't kill people, people kill people ....even in new vehicles......
    Desk jockey robots publish statisics, real, competent people have full knowledge of where the road toll arises.
    I suppose the next article will be a re-hash of '''''older drivers''''' , may I advise that it was young drivers and drivers with young families who were injured or died during Christmas holiday period in Australia, with their ''late-model-vehicles including the super-unsafe SUV's" or 'small trucks' for which hardly any driver has a licence, they obtained their licence to drive in a Holden Barina or similar'

    Please don't insult mature, competent vehicle drivers with click-bait garbage such as this article.

    Quality of drivers and motorist entitlement is a contributor in my opinion. It's everyone for themselves out there these days, everyone is in a mad rush to get where they are going and common sense and courtesy goes out the window.

    The amount of people I see snapchat and driving is getting ridiculous too!

      Yes, most people behind me want to get ahead of me regardless of my velocity.

        That's a pet peeve for me. I drive a ute and the number of people who overtake then slow down drives me nuts. I can only assume they're thinking "oh it's a ute, it must be slow I better pass it". Which would be fine it they passed then kept going, but noooo. :(

          it annoying when I’m driving 10KPH over the speed limit and some tool is tailgating me and busting to pass.
          Another thing, some tool is busting to pass you and when they do, turn into a side street.
          It’s like a game to them, sit behind people, pressure them to get out of the way and then rush ahead and sit behind the car ahead.
          I also notice people surge ahead and accelerate to the red light and I draw up alongside them.
          While I’m ranting, I might turn right on an amber arrow just in time and am followed by three cars, two of them would have run a red arrow.

            yeah that's another gripe. I can understand people being in a hurry and if they pass and keep going then I'm fine with it. But yeah overtaking and then turning off within a hundred metres is pretty dumb. I always wonder whether they've gone to overtake and suddenly realised "oh shit I turn off there" (which is a little more forgivable) or whether they just don't give a damn.

            I don't even mind the "leapfrogging" you describe where they try to steadily get ahead of slow traffic, most of the time. If it's overtaking a few slow cars to get in the clear then cool. But the number of times you see people doing that in peak hour traffic where everyone is crawling nose to tail at 30kph...

    NT has annual vehicle rego checks.Look at their road toll. What about the environmental costs of shipping cars to Aus on ships that use 200 tons of fuel a day and the disposal of old cars? Teach people to drive properly and be responsible for their own actions first. Enforce all road rules.

    It's probably true to say that in some circumstances older cars may not be up to scratch in the area of safety ,
    But even having a flash new car with all the gizmo's won't always help you .
    Most people do not want to be driving old dung boxes ,
    for those who are less affluent , often it is a case of drive what you can afford to own .
    So spending millions on wizz bang surveys stating the obvious or putting further monetary barriers on old cars to those less able too afford a newer safer car are probably not going to help them much.
    One of the problems is at this time of year when people are enjoying festivities and maybe enjoying holidays ,
    They may not be all that experienced as drivers and they are coming out of their comfort zone.
    They not only are driving in road conditions they are not familiar with , but often they drive longer hours and do not know their own limits of fatigue .
    Unfortunately just putting people in new cars is not the silver bullet to stop the road toll , although it may certainly make a small difference to some .
    They need to train people to drive to stay alive ,
    i used to drive for a living , and some of the drivers on the road , it is a wonder that they can Chew chewing gum and walk at the same time ,
    How they manage to even survive as humans until license age is just a truly amazing .

      Annoying when commentators say we should have newer cars but disregard the economics or the reasons that people hang onto old cars.
      Like saying “buy a new car” in the same way you buy new trousers, “yeah I’ll go this arvo”

    I don't know if it's entitlement or overestimation of ability, but deaths seemed to have dropped dramatically since 2000. I have a feeling these statistics may say more about lack of mechanical sympathy for their cars and service to cost of car ratio, and the kind of people that can end up with these damaged cars (inexperience and "mechanically challenged"). Also most recent road trauma report says ages 17-25 down%3.4, 26-39 up%7.9, 40-64 up%3.9, 65-74 up%9.3 and above 75 up%17.1.

    Last edited 29/12/17 1:03 am

    I own a ford falcon ba xr6 2005 model and had older ford classic muscle cars in the past, i can tell you the experience when someone with a new model or new generation car slammed into my car they crumbled like paper. The new cars are not as rigid and solid these days as they cut corners to make the cars cheaper by using less materiaks.

      They are supposed to crumple to absorb impact so the force of the crash is not transferred to the occupants. It’s not about saving metal it’s about saving lives.

        Exactly, the car is sacrificial, the more of the kinetic energy it absorbs, the less transferred to the occupants. I don't understand why people don't get this, it's basic physics. It seems education levels certainly aren't improving.

          People just don't understand. They see the crumpled up mess of a crashed car and assume it was a disaster. There's a stubborn generation out there that just seem to think "more solid is more betterer", which is far, far away from the truth.

    I do love how the “I’m the best driver in the universe” crowd comes out for these articles. It’s not you that you need to worry about.

    If every car on the road today was replaced with cars that have auto braking and lane keeping assistance. You would see a massive decease in road deaths.

      Very cool technology indeed - and obviously very useful when circumstances arise.

      As a data analyst (amongst other things), it would be interesting to know full demographics and circumstances surrounding all incidents. It really is unfortunate people get hurt or even killed, but in the majority of situations, it comes down to human error, hooning gone wrong or the result of other general stupidity. It's a shame we have to wrap the world up in cotton wool to protect from that.

    When driverless cars become ubiquitous, and the road toll drops again, and the numbers show driven cars killing more people than driverless, I wonder how long it will take to ban or severely restrict driven cars from our roads. Could go the way of the horse. It'll be a leisure thing that a few people do for fun out in the bush, or for tourists in the city, but not for the daily commute, and not on the freeway.

    As an automotive engineer, I can attest to the significant effort and resources that go in to making each generation of vehicle safer than the last. Check out this Australian crash test which clearly shows progress in this regard:

    Regardless of the cause of an accident, unfortunately they do happen - for a multitude of reasons. The best way that you can reduce the risk for you and your family is to ensure that the vehicle you drive meets the most stringent criteria for ANCAP ratings.

      I would also add vehicle maintenance to that list. No point buying an XC90 when the tyres are rubbish/not inflated properly, the brake pads and fluid haven't been changed in years, etc.

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