Accident survey reveals safest cars


MB Enthusiast
Apr 23, 2003
All sorts of odds n sods
Get the full report at :

It covers most, if not all of the models represented by owners here.


By David Williams, Motoring Editor, Evening Standard
4 June 2003

Britain's safest - and least safe - cars are revealed in the most extensive survey of its kind today.

More than 180,000 accidents were studied by government scientists to find which cars give the best protection in a crash.

Some of the best-known makes, including the Volvo 400 and an early Renault Espace, are among those most likely to expose drivers to injury. The survey, based on 176 of the most common cars on the road, also reveals those offering the best protection in an accident.

These include the Ford Galaxy, VW Polo and Saab 900. Today safety experts hailed the survey - by the Department for Transport - as "essential reading" for anyone buying a used car. "This is precisely the kind of data that people need," said Robert Gifford of Pacts, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.

Mr Gifford added: "In clear detail, this survey spells out information that could help keep you safe in a crash, based on real-life incidents that occurred on the road."

Researchers studied data gathered by police at the scenes of serious crashes to assess the risk of injury to drivers in different makes and models. The risk of injury was shown as a percentage.

The survey does not reflect the likelihood of any particular vehicle being involved in an accident. But it does show how likely the driver would be to suffer injury in an accident.

Severe injuries were shown to be most common on roads with maximum speeds of 60mph, where the risk of death or serious injury is three times higher than on a 20mph or 30mph road.

But the risk of injury or death on a 70mph road is lower than on a 60mph road, usually because of better road engineering on motorways and dual carriageways.

Drivers are also three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a front-on or side-on collision than if their car is hit from behind. Women are less likely to be killed in a crash because they tend to drive more slowly.

The Royal Society for the

Prevention of Accidents said the survey would help anyone buying a used car. Spokesman Roger Vincent said: "Many people go for the look of a car, but if you want to remain safe, drivers must follow information like this."

Consumers are urged to find out the age of any used car they may buy and then crosscheck it with the report, since its data may not reflect new models whose safety features have been updated.

Each accident in the report involved two vehicles and took place between 1996 and 2000. Ratings are only published for makes of car registered on or after 1 January 1990 that were involved in at least 150 crashes.


Active Member
Jun 4, 2002
Certainly makes for interesting reading!

I have had some involvement in this type of work, and would add a significant proviso-

The caveat that

"The survey does not reflect the likelihood of any particular vehicle being involved in an accident. But it does show how likely the driver would be to suffer injury in an accident."

is important.

In simple terms, there are certain cars that appeal to certain buyers. One example would be; Austin Maestros being bought by elderly males - a group less likely to be physically capable of responding successfully to a "freak" incident that occurs in front of them AND once involved in a collision, less physically resilient to the impact - so more likely to suffer a serious or fatal injury than a younger person.
This means that Maestros are more likely to be involved in collisions than another cars, and that when they are involved the occupant is more likely to suffer. Clearly this is no way connested to the safety features (or lack thereof) of the Maestro.

Similar for the Citroen Saxo - bought by inexperienced male drivers who want a car with some (Max Power) image. Although they are a physically resilient group, they are more likely to be taking an inadvisable risk when they have their collision (eg not wearing a seatbelt, speeding, concentrating on stereo...). Again the number of serious injuries/deaths per 100 collisons are higher. Nothing to do with the solid build of the Saxo.

Mercs appeal to another group (I suggest).

An interesting report, but needs to be considered along with Euro N-Cap - the fact that this is a "real life" report is not necessarily a good thing - it is influenced by factors beyond the influence of the engineers who designed the vehicle in the first place (unless, of course, they designed it to appeal to the hard-of-thinking...).

I have seen some VERY badly damaged Volvos from relatively minor collisions - but then, they are meant to be that way - the car absorbs the impact, not the driver.

I'm on my third Merc btw. :bannana:

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