Safe vehicles

Goal for 2020

A Safe System means we have a vehicle fleet where all of the cars, vans, motorcycles, buses and trucks have the latest proven vehicle safety technologies. This means we'll have more vehicles in the fleet that help prevent crashes from occurring and which better protect drivers, riders, passengers and other road users in the event of a crash.

Where we are

  • Development of a Vehicle Standards Map which identifies promising new vehicle standards and technologies for policy consideration.
  • Promotion and expansion of the availability of vehicle safety information, including internet sites such as Rightcar and  TradeMe.
  • Mandating of Electronic Stability Control for all new light vehicles from 1 July 2015, progressing to include all used passenger cars greater than 2 litre engine capacity from 1 March 2018.
  • Implementation of a Fleet Safety Programme.
  • ACC motor vehicle levies adjusted to reflect vehicle safety.
  • New light vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet with a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) safety rating increased from about 51 per cent in 2009 to 95 per cent in 2016. This highlights a rapid improvement in vehicle safety technology that holds great potential to improve road safety.

The importance of vehicle age in injury crash outcomes

Despite the progress in the safety standards of new vehicles entering the fleet, the average age of our vehicle fleet has increased from 12.5 years in 2009 to 14 years in 2016. The proportion of new vehicles in the fleet is very low, and consumers can still buy new vehicles that do not have a high ANCAP safety rating.

Research commissioned by the Ministry of Transport Why people die in crashes (2016) shows that in two vehicle crashes the average age of the vehicles in which people died was 15.1 years, but the average age of the other vehicles involved was 9.1 years.

More recent analysis to June 2017 confirms the link between vehicle age and the risk of death or serious injury if that vehicle is involved in an injury crash. The chart shows around 14 per cent of the injured occupants received serious or fatal injuries in vehicles up to 10 years of age, but the proportion increased to around 22 per cent in vehicles 20 years or older. Vehicle occupants who sustained injury had a 60 per cent higher risk of serious injury or death in a 20 year old vehicle compared to a 10 year old vehicle.

Core road safety activity

Education and advertising will continue to raise awareness and build consumer demand for the features that would make the most impact on lifting the level of vehicle safety in New Zealand. Such features include electronic stability control and side-curtain airbags. Increased consumer demand for these features is likely to influence the purchasing patterns of used vehicle importers.

Consumer vehicle testing programs, such as ANCAP, continue to influence manufacturers to improve the safety of new vehicles sold into the New Zealand fleet, and the 2016-2020 Action Plan seeks to increase the impact of these programs through greater publicity and visibility of safety ratings.

The Vehicle Standards Map identifies promising new vehicle standards and technologies for policy consideration. The map will be maintained and updated as new technologies become available, and an initial investigation will be carried out to determine the value of mandating key safety technologies and adopting new international safety standards.

Safer Journeys Action Plan 2016-2020

The objective of the 2016-2020 Action Plan is to maximise the benefit that New Zealand receives from increasing levels of international vehicle safety, including new vehicle safety technology.

Vehicle safety standards

The Ministry of Transport will lead initial investigation by December 2017 on the value of mandating the following safety standards or technology for vehicles entering the fleet:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) for heavy vehicles
  • Under-run protection on heavy vehicles
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) for heavy vehicles and motorcycles
  • Side protection standards
  • Side-curtain airbags for light used vehicles
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) for all vehicles except motorcycles.

Other actions include:

  • Improve the availability and quality of vehicle safety information to consumers
  • Assist vehicle dealers to publicise safety information at the point of sale
  • Work with fleet buyers, importers and operators to encourage and incentivise safer vehicle purchasing decisions
  • Investigate the earlier adoption of international vehicle safety standards
  • Set up the technology platform for future uptake of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and vehicle-to-road communication.

Safe System

A Safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury