Buying a Used Car

Used Car Safety Ratings

You’ve got your sights set on that car. It’s the right price. It looks good. It’s the perfect size for what you need.  But there is one critical factor you may not have thought about….. is it safe?

It is important that your vehicle offers you good protection from injury in the event of a crash. With a little bit of research you can chose a safe car in the used car market using RAA's Used Car Safety Ratings.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read this brochure and find out how the vehicle you are considering purchasing compares on the safety front.  Those few minutes could save a life – your own, your passengers’ or that of another road user.

Download the Buyers Brochure and Car Guide below.

How are the Safety Ratings calculated?

Records from more than 7 million vehicles in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2015 were analysed.

Ratings were calculated using an internationally reviewed method and are influenced by the vehicle’s mass, the structural design of the body, and the safety features fitted to the vehicle, such as airbags and types of seat belts. The driver protection ratings are about the risk of death or serious injury to the driver of the vehicle in the event of a crash. 

The ratings are not about the risk of being involved in the crash in the first place, which is generally determined by a range of factors including driver behaviour, vehicle condition and the road environment.

The score for each individual model can be compared against the ratings for all other vehicles.

The driver protection ratings have been recalculated in 2017 based on the most recent crash data available so they are not comparable with the ratings published in previous years.

What is the “Safer Pick” label?

Models of vehicles with the “Safer Pick” label are found to cause lower injuries to other road users with which they collide including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, as well as providing excellent protection for their own driver.

What are the differences between these ratings and the ANCAP safety ratings for new cars?

New car safety ratings (e.g. ANCAP) are determined by crash testing new vehicles in a controlled laboratory setting, while the used car safety ratings are calculated using data from millions of police reports on actual crashes involving a range of drivers and all types of driving conditions.

Any vehicle safety rating system can only provide an indication of the relative levels of protection between vehicles you can expect in the event of a crash.  Whether or not you are seriously or critically injured in a crash also depends on how safely you drive your vehicle.

Won’t certain kinds of vehicles score a good rating because of the types of people who drive them or where they are driven?

These factors were taken into account as much as possible when the data is analysed.  The ratings were adjusted for factors such as driver gender and age, type of road user involved, speed limit at the crash location, number of vehicles involved, crash configuration, and year and location of the crash.

Full technical details on how the ratings are calculated can be found on the Monash University Accident Research Centre website,

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