Safety ratings explained
Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) and the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rate car safety on a five-star scale. You want the safest car model you can afford, so if a car scores less than four stars don’t take the risk.
What is UCSR?
UCSR are calculated from data on injury outcomes to people involved in real world crashes in Australia and New Zealand. The ratings reflect your relative risk of being killed or admitted to hospital in the event of a crash, with more stars indicating lower risk. A vehicle needs to be involved in a large number of crashes to be accurately rated, so some less common or relatively new makes and models will not have a UCSR.
UCSR is an initiative of the Monash University Accident Research Centre, one of the world’s most comprehensive injury prevention research centres.
What is ANCAP?
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program rating is based on a car’s performance in a range of simulated crashes, fitment of vital safety features and technologies. For new models, it is the best marker of safety.
Our app lists the ANCAP safety ratings for newer vehicles that don’t yet have a UCSR rating.
Getting to know your car
Check out the range of vehicle safety options on offer.
Sound structural integrity means things won't collapse around you when it comes to the crunch.
For all-round protection, make sure your car has airbags in all the right places - front, side, curtain and knee.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps bring your car safely back on track.
Anti-Locking Braking Systems (ABS) help you stop without losing control of your vehicle.
No cracks! A quality, undamaged windscreen means no nasty surprises if you hit a bump in the road.
Make sure you're buckled up correctly with pretensioning seatbelts.
We all have our own ideas when it comes to buying a car — reasons why we favour one over another. But often these beliefs can be based more on opinion than fact.
New vs. old
Go for a newer model whenever possible. Only 10% of cars made in 2003 had a 5 star safety rating, in comparison to 87% of new cars sold from 2015 to 2016. If you do need to get an older model, make sure it is fitted with important safety features like electronic stability control and curtain side-airbags.
When it comes to car colour, beauty is more than just skin-deep. You may think black looks cool, but white could save your life. Lighter colours improve the visibility of your car to other road users.
Four wheel drives
4WD vehicles may appear strong and indestructible. But because of their relatively higher centre of gravity, they handle differently and are more likely to be involved in rollover type crashes. If you are keen on a 4WD, weigh up all the safety features like electronic stability control and curtain side-airbags.
Keep yourself safe
You have greater buyer protection if you buy from a licensed motor dealer rather than through a private sale. Weigh up the pros and cons.
Maintain your safety
Regular servicing can help your car to stay safe. Everybody should have at least a basic understanding of vehicle maintenance.
Buy the safest car you can afford
For a more comprehensive guide to vehicle safety check out the SafeCars App page and download the app. You can also visit the sites below.
Keep a cool head
Don’t get carried away just because it looks good. Take it for a test drive, and make sure you’re happy everything works properly.
- Ease of parking
- Cooling and heating
- Turning circle
- Functioning lights
Get it checked by an expert
Get an independent inspection report from a qualified mechanic or RACQ.
Think twice if:
- You’re not satisfied with its condition
- Agreed repairs haven't been carried out
- The car has been modified from original without certification
Check the vehicle history
Check it’s not stolen or written off. Make sure there’s no money owing on it. Search the Personal Property Securities Register to find out. It costs less than $5.
Visit the PPSR website Or phone 1300 007 777
Keep all your paperwork
It could get you out of trouble later on.
- Any document you've signed
- Any contract
- Warranty documents
- Safety certificate
Make sure you check that the safety certificate is valid and that all the vehicle details are correct too. Learn more about safety certificates
Want a free driving lesson?
Keys2Drive is a program that allows parents to have a free driving lesson with their L-plater. There are numerous driving instructors throughout Queensland participating in this initiative. Why not book your free lesson today?
Where to next?
Explore these popular road safety topics on StreetSmarts.