The Automobile Association (AA) has called for the introduction of safety testing measures that provide a scale of safety ratings for all vehicles sold locally.
The association said these safety ratings should be clearly displayed on vehicles.
“Local consumers rarely have access to information on the safety ratings of the cars they are buying. For us, it’s critical that it becomes mandatory for a sticker to be placed in the windscreen of a vehicle telling buyers what the safety rating of that vehicle is, in the same way that a sticker is used to display the emissions rating of a vehicle,” the AA said.
It said implementing a local safety ratings scale, and displaying the results on each vehicle, would mean consumers have a better understanding of the safety of the vehicle they intend buying, at the point of purchase, and that this would allow them to make more informed decisions.
The AA compiled a safety report on ‘entry-level’ vehicles in South Africa – those cars that were most likely to come with fewer safety features.
The association used motor vehicles which had a retail price of less than R150,000 (2016 prices).
Twenty three models made up the sample of vehicles from 13 different manufacturers.
The aim of the report was to identify the number of basic safety features available in motor vehicles which retail under R150 000, and also identify which safety features are most prominent in these cars.
The AA developed a safety point-based system with relevant weights allocated to the existence of certain safety features.
Active safety features such as ABS and ESC were given the most significant weights (30points each), as the importance of their core function of avoiding collisions is recognised.
In relation to passive safety features, focus is placed on the presence of the number of airbags available, with each of the airbags scoring 10 points.
The only exception is that of the curtain airbag, which scores 20 points (an additional 10 points), as studies have shown that curtain airbags can drastically reduce life threatening head injuries by up to 50% (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2006).
Safety points were also allocated to cars which have undergone the Euro/Global NCAP crash test.
A total of 135 points is achievable if a motor vehicle has all of the safety features installed.
Of all the motor vehicles under consideration only one model, the Citroën C1, had all safety features installed as standard. The only loss of points incurred was due to the C1 only being granted four out of five stars on the Euro NCAP crash test.
It is worth noting, however, that it was also the only vehicle to have undergone Euro
NCAP testing and to be sold on the South African market with the same safety specifications as tested.
Another significant discovery was that six of the 23 vehicles under consideration had
none of the identified safety features installed.
All vehicle pricing and safety features were collected from dealership brochures and are correct as of the end August 2016.