Our old cars are killing us.

More than 2.7 million of the cars on Australia’s roads are more than 15 years old.

They might run okay, but when push comes to shove, they don’t have the necessary safety equipment to protect us — one or two airbags are better than nothing.

Cars are tested for safety under the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and programs like it around the world.

ANCAP chief exec James Goodwin said the organisation is charged with eliminating road trauma through the testing and promotion of safer vehicles.

“We are working hard to achieve this through influencing the design, specification and availability of new vehicle models with the latest safety features and technologies.,” he said.

But Mr Goodwin points out testing is not enough — a two-fold approach to the problem is required.

”An area that requires greater focus is the age of the Australian vehicle fleet and its direct correlation to road fatalities,” he added.

“There are more than 2.7 million registered vehicles on our roads aged 15 years or older.

“These vehicles are unlikely to be fitted with safety features that we now expect from new vehicles.

“So, not only do we need to focus attention to accelerate the uptake of new vehicles with the latest safety technologies, if tangible safety benefits are to be realised, we must implement ways and set targets to reduce the age of the fleet.”

Mr Goodwin was speaking following the release of a report on the Inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy.

He says says a key element to improving the safety of the fleet is improving vehicle affordability.

“New technologies should also be affordable and accessible which will require leadership from not just governments but also industry,” he said.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.