The deadly truth about the cars on New Zealand's roads

Over 40 percent of cars on New Zealand roads have only one to two star safety ratings.
Over 40 percent of cars on New Zealand roads have only one to two star safety ratings. Photo credit: Getty

Over 40 percent of vehicles driven in New Zealand are twice as likely to kill their occupants in a crash, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The NZTA's statistics show that currently, 41 per cent of the country's light vehicle fleet have safety ratings of one to two stars. 

That is over 1.64 million vehicles.

NZTA research says that if you drive a one or two-star rating car and crash you are twice as more likely to die or be seriously injured, compared to those driving a five star rated vehicle.

Two-thirds of crashes that result in death or serious injuries involve one and two-star vehicles.

The NZTA's Safe Vehicles Programme, which began last week, is targeting Kiwis who are buying new or old cars to get them into safer vehicles, with four to five-star ratings. 

The message behind the campaign is the choice you make when buying your next car, could be a life or death decision. 

A message which Senior Road Safety Manager Fabian Marsh says is crucial. 

"The numbers are clear, the higher the safety rating the more likely you are to survive in a crash," Mr Marsh said.

The Right Car website provides safety ratings to nearly 95 percent of vehicles on New Zealand roads. 

Marsh said we all make mistakes when driving but some crashes are inevitable, but safer vehicles can save lives in crashes. 

"Checking a vehicle's safety rating before you buy isn't often high on the list of priorities for many New Zealanders, and we'd like to see that change," he said.